Telecom pundits often intone the notion that the cost and disruption associated with replacing a legacy phone network with an IP-based system constitute a huge barrier to corporate adoption of VoIP. Given yesterday's announcement of free phone software Gizmo Project 2.0 and its ability to interoperate with the free, open-source PBX, Asterisk, it looks as if such a transition could be carried out pretty much cost free.
A key factor linking the two is the Session Initiation ProtocolSIPwhich is gaining ever-increasing momentum as a key VoIP standard. Both Gizmo Project and Asterisk speak SIP natively (as do some other softphones, and some other PBXs).
The Gizmo Project network, operated by Gizmo developer SIPphone, is a SIP-based VoIP network that handles calls between Gizmo users directly (for free) and has peering arrangements (connections) with a number of other SIP-based phone networks (for free phoning between them), and which can inexpensively terminate calls to the traditional phone network (the PSTN) and provide incoming phone numbers that let PSTN users call Gizmo users.
A PBX, by contrast, routes calls for members of an organization, allowing many people to share a limited number of phone lines (trunks), and make free calls within the system by extension numberoften among different physical locations. PBXs also provide application services such as directories, voicemail, and "auto-attendant" voice menus to aid incoming callers in reaching the people or information they seek.
Put these elements together and the possibilities are very interesting.
For starters, this lets a company use the Gizmo network to transport outgoing calls, circumventing the local phone company and relying on Gizmo's IP-PSTN gateways to route to the PSTN where necessary, and saving a bundle.
One or more Gizmo network Call In numbers (each costing $35 per year) could, in theory, serve as an organization's telephony face to the outside world. Even if this did not fully replace a relationship with the local telco, it could certainly reduce costs.
Whether or not either of these two options is put in play, Gizmo Project can certainly fill the role of extension phone for any or all extensionseliminating another of the significant costs of provisioning a phone system.
And since Gizmo Project running on a mobile device becomes a mobile phone, it can be used to answer calls to the office PBX virtually anywhere in the world where there's a broadband Internet connection available.
"Whether a company is focused on a completely free Asterisk PBX installation or is running a premium version, Gizmo Project is now the ideal softphone for use with any size deployment," said Michael Robertson, Chairman and CEO of SIPphone. "Our experience at routing millions of calls through almost any network setup means that mobile computer users can be reached anywhere as if they were physically in their office," Robertson added.
The Gizmo Project software is available for free download in versions for Windows 2000/XP, Mac OS X, and four flavors of Linux. In addition to voice calls, Gizmo provides audio call recording, instant text messaging, and voicemail delivered as MP3 via email.