A Brazilian company has forged a software bridge between Asterisk and Skype.
Asterisk is an open source VoIP PBX that runs on Linux and other platforms which handles VoIP to VoIP calling as well as calls to landlines. Developed by Mark Spencer it has taken the community by storm, sprouting many tens of thousands of installations world-wide, with a thriving development community.
It can work with traditional telephony systems or POTS (plain old telephone system), with digital systems (ISDN etc) and modern VoIP protocols such as H.323, SIP, MGCP and more.
Digium (set-up by Spencer) now manufactures hardware and offers a commercially supported version of Asterisk known as ABE (Asterisk Binary Edition).
One feature that has been missing is Skype integration (the next version of Asterisk v1.4 supports GoogleTalk using Google’s libjingle library). A Brazilian company has now changed that, with their ChanSkype site.
Currently the service is in test and you have to utilise ChanSkype’s own Asterisk servers. They offer a “free” trial whereby they allow a SIP connection and then by passing in a Skype address it sets-up a connection to the Skype user.
In the future they will be offering an actual chan_skype that plugs directly into any Asterisk server and can connect to the Skype network.
Of course it’s not quite so simple. The initial release only runs on RedHat’s Fedora Core or CentOS (which means it will probably also run on RedHat Enterprise Server too as CentOS is a clone of that). There must also be an X server running as well as the Skype for Linux client. So ChanSkype just bridges the two systems together.
A dual Xeon 3Ghz with 2 gigs of memory should run 30 simultaneous Skype calls without any noticable degradation of performance.
Pricing has not yet been set, but it will be licensed on a per-channel basis.
There may be licensing problems too as Asterisk modules should normally be available under a GPL license and with source code, but as Skype is proprietry they may get away with it.
Someone really needs to reverse engineer the Skype protocol and then a native chan_skype could be developed, but this is unlikely to happen in the western world as that could be illegal.
It’s a good idea, but really just a straight link into the Skype software which unfortunately is the only way it can be done.