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Skype for Asterisk Marks Evolution of IP PBX

Making good on a promise made more than nine months ago, Digium has released the beta version of Skype for Asterisk. The software, which enables users to make and receive Skype calls from their Asterisk phone system, is available for free download until August 7; after that it will be sold on a per-license basis. No pricing information is available yet, according to a blog post by John Todd of Digium.

The Skype network offers low-cost long distance calling across the PSTN plus free dialing to the 440 million-plus Skype users. Skype, which began life in 2003 as a pure-play consumer VoIP provider, has made no secret of its ambitious plans for moving into the business market. The business unit, officially formed in the summer of 2008, earlier this year released the beta version of a new software linking existing SIP-based PBXs to the Skype IP calling network.

Like Skype for Asterisk, Skype For SIP will allow companies to receive inbound calls from Skype users through their existing PBX, at no charge to the caller; make outbound calls anywhere in the world, from any device connected to the SIP PBX, at low global calling rates from Skype; and purchase Skype online numbers to receive free calls traditional fixed or mobile phones.

The mash-up of Skype with Asterisk, the leading open-source IP PBX, marks another advance in the evolution of the PBX from a premises-based box to a hosted and fully open-source telephony solution. The evolution of business telephony platforms is the topic of a panel at the VON Conference & Expo, Sept. 21-23 in Miami Beach, entitled “Beyond Boxes: The Future of the PBX.”.

Noting that IP line installations are set to surpass legacy TDM shipments sometime this year, Digium CEO Danny Windham, in an address at an industry conference earlier this year, called IP telephony “the only bright spot in the telephony market.”

That spot still has plenty of room to grow: IP PBXs grow at around 21 percent annually over the next few years, according to Frost and Sullivan, but will still represent less than half the installed base of PBX lines.


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