Last month Skype announced an agreement with Digium, the primary developer of the asterisk open-source IP-PBX software, to enable Skype from Asterisk. What this means is that one could make skype calls, even long distance and International telephone calls, from your office office phone as well as receive skype calls on your office phone. The initial versions will only support voice, with video support to be supported in the future.
Let’s see how this would work: When a Skype username and password are provisioned in the asterisk IP-PBX, calls to the Skype username will ring an extension (as well as on any Skype clients logged in with the same username). Outbound calls from an extension to telephone numbers and Skype users can be configured to go via the skype network. Thus, Skype acts as the VoIP gateway service to an IP-PBX.
of course, one must keep in mind that the Skype network uses Voice over Internet or Voice over IP (VoIP) technology, so the quality of the service will be much like what you see with Skype – its pretty cheap service, but it comes with occasional hiccups during calls.
Clearly this is a very smart move by both companies – and one that has been in the waiting for several years. For Digium, the primary commercial entity supporting the open-source asterisk software, this makes the Asterisk IP-PBX a better proposition for small and medium businesses. Digium will benefit through sales of its hardware, software, and maintenance agreements. For Skype, this means better access to the same businesses and will benefit from additional lines, minutes of use, and plans. On the losing side will be VoIP service providers (both wholesale and retail).
Overall, the biggest winners will be small and medium sized businesses that use asterisk and are looking for a better VoIP service provider or those small and medium businesses that use Skype, but want additional call features (e.g. call park, ring groups, monitoring) and use with