Adventures with SKYPE / VOIP – Part II

A few people have asked about my Skype / VOIP adventures so I thought it was about time I posted an update.

The SMC mobile I mentioned in my earlier post arrived and I must admit while the phone is a bit on the chunky side, I quite like it. My first Skype/voip call using the SMC phone was with my dad and he either didn’t understand what I was talking about or he didn’t find the fact that I was chatting over an internet connection as interesting as I did. 🙁

I’ve only come across two problems, one quite major and the other just a bit of an irritation.

The major one is the lack of public wifi spots, this is something that Mike Nolan touches on in the Web Services blog. There are a few hotspots in the Ormskirk area but I’ve only made calls so far using my home wifi or the Edge Hill wifi network. I’m not too disheartened at the moment and I’m looking around for alternatives. A friend pointed me in the direction od The Cloud which provides a network of wifi spots around the UK. I’ve also joined The BT/FON Community, this community agrees to give free wifi access to other members . It’s not a huge community in the UK at the moment, but it is sure to grow over time.

My second problem is the attitude that people have to Skype. When some people find out that I’m using Skype I get a look from them like I’ve just told them that I want to eat their puppy dogs. I’m then usually told one of three things; there are better products than Skype, Skype is dangerous because it creates too much traffic on the network and the last one is that JANET (our internet providers) do not allow Skype. The first one might be true but there are already a number of Skype users at Edge Hill and I was intersted in Skype because it came with my laptop. The second charge that Skype creates too much network traffic is sort of true. Skype could potentially cause a PC to become a Supernode, these are basically PCs running Skype that start to route calls from other users. This has the potential to swamp a netowork with traffic. The makers of Skype have released some guidelines aimed at Universities that allow users to prevent this from happening. There is also a set of windows registry keys that can be downloaded from the internet, these keys will also prevent the Supernode problem. The charge that Janet do not allow Skype does not seem to be true, Janet have written some reports and guidelines around Skype but as I am aware have not banned the software from being used. Most of the Janet reports relate to the problem of Supernodes. I’m going to be contacting Janet for some confirmation, and to ask about their latest take on the use of Skype.

I’m still impressed by Skype and VOIP and I’m using the SMC phone on a regular basis to make calls. I’ve even redirected all calls to my personal mobile phone onto my SMC Skype phone. I’ll update the blog about my experiences again in the next few weeks. I also need to do some research into the locations of the local wifi hotspots.

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2 Responses to Adventures with SKYPE / VOIP – Part II

  1. Frank says:

    3 offer free Skype calls to their X-series customers.. so you’re really mobile then – no need for hotspots. The mobile leg of the call is actually done over the old circuit switched network, however. Your online presence etc is done over GPRS.

  2. technical information relating to this article:
    http://www.skype.com/security/guide-for-network-admins-30beta.pdf

    “Supernodes are restricted from using more than 5 kilobits per second of bandwidth.”

    To disable supernode behaviour, add/amend the following registry dword: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Policies\Skype\Phone, DisableSupernode, REG_DWORD = 1

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