Alternatives to Skype

Hey all,

Currently, I’m on the market for some sort of “phone over the internet” type deal to keep me connected with my parents and friends back home while I’m at school. Obviously, the first name that popped into my head was Skype, but the school I’m at doesn’t allow it. Can anyone recommend me an alternative system?

If they don’t allow Skype, most likely they won’t allow anything else either. Why do they not allow Skype?

Apparently, Skype isn’t allowed on DoD networks. I’m not sure of the reason why, but I think it has to do with security issues.

Gadu-gadu I think is very popular with East Europeans but I don’t know whether it is a true phone substitute or just instant messenging.

Google Talk allows both voice and video chat. And it’s been less buggy than Skype for me.

Or, even easier, both of you get a gmail account and install google’s video chat plugin.

Windows Live Messenger works fine as well, provided your parents and friends also have it. The good thing about Skype is that you can call a normal telephone, I’m not sure if Google and Messenger do that.
I use this a bit mostly because it integrates with Google Voice.

MagicJack. Ignore the horrible infomercials and just go get one at Radio Shack.

The thing actually works … smaller than a pack of cigarettes, set it up on your computer, choose an area code, and then you can plug it in to any computer anywhere in the world and have a local number for your family and friends to call.

Skype works exactly like P2P and the client you run tries to become a superpeer. That is, it tries to open a port and begins routing phone calls for other users. Ive verified this once by unblocking skype on the firewall and watched the internet activity with netmon. After a few minutes skype was using my computer as kind of a centralized switch for about 3 or 4 phone calls. Using netmon I could close the connections and end these phone calls.

Thats kinda a security nightmare, not to mention a waste of bandwidth. End users shouldnt be running servers. On top of it, a lot of governments dont like skype because it uses encrypted phone calls, thus they cant snoop it and have a lot of trouble tracing it. The trace usually ends at the guy acting as a superpeer.

So maybe DoD would let you use something else. Youre best asking the helpdesk there.

Pretty much any chat program has voice and video- yahoo chat, AIM, ichat, etc, The only thing special about Skype is that you can pay to call actual telephones instead of just other computers.