Since the announcement that Microsoft are buying Skype I thought I’d look into alternative VoIP providers.

Firstly I fired up good old Ekiga (formerly Gnomemeeting) with the Diamondcard SIP gateway provider, to see if it had improved any since I last tried it. It hasn’t is the short answer. I mean it works as a SIP client but its difficult to use and a bit low on features/services.

I then tried my ISP as my SIP gateway provider via their Freephonie service. I works fine with Ekiga, but its limited to calling French numbers, although interestingly you can use it outside of France and calling rates (essentially free!) are the same as their phone service.

I also looked at the Freespeech SIP service, which has great features including an inbound 0844 number like SkypeIn or Yac but its unlimited and PAYG packages exclude London and 0800 numbers from the free/bonus minutes schemes.

Then I tried to figure out what’s going on with Google Voice and Talk – it has always been said that Voice isn’t available outside the USA and Talk doesn’t allow phonecalls. Well today I changed my GMail language to “English (US)” and now I can make phonecalls to landlines by installing the Talk web browser plugin, for 2c/minute.

So I don’t really understand that – its like Voice and Talk have been merged and the USA restriction is only really down to the language not the location! That said, I can’t seem to get the new Talk2 Android client to show me a “call” button or anything. The “one number to rule them all” feature isn’t enabled (only works with Sprint cellular IIRC) and free calls only work in the USA.

So I think for now I’ll stick to Skype+Yac until M$ kill Linux support or change their “unlimited country” fees, or Google activate all the Voice features and maybe drop their prices a bit.