Now It’s a No-Brainer: Free Skype Calling with Asterisk

Many of you may recall that last August we showed you an easy way to implement free calling to millions of cellphones using Gizmo5 and Asterisk®. Vaporware aside, it's been a quiet six months in the Skype for Asterisk department. But now the folks at Gizmo5 have outdone themselves once again. This time it's their new OpenSky service. Here's how it works. You can call as many Skype users as you like and talk for up to five minutes for free.

If there are people you frequently call and the time limit is a problem for you, then you can cough up $20 a year and make as many 2-hour Skype calls as you like to your ten best friends. If you've got more friends than that or if you plan to use this for something other than a home Asterisk system, then there are reasonably priced plans to accommodate you. $320 a year gets you 20 accounts to an unlimited number of Skype users with the same 2-hour per call limit. $800 buys you 50 accounts, and $1600 buys you 100 accounts per year.

Getting Started. The easiest way to integrate this into your existing Asterisk system is to sign up for a free Gizmo5 account and then follow our previous tutorial to set up your outbound trunk.

Once you have everything working, you're ready to add a few numbers on your Asterisk system for your Skype pals. Here's the easy way, and we'll cover some more sophisticated implementations in a subsequent article. Assuming you have a friend with a Skype username of joeschmo, here's what you need to do to call Joe by dialing 563 (J-O-E) from any extension on your Asterisk system.

Edit the /etc/asterisk/extensions_custom.conf file on your system and add the following line within the [from-internal-custom] context:

exten => 563,1,Dial(SIP/skype_joeschmo@proxy01.sipphone.com)

If you also use softphones which support SIP URI dialing, then you might want to add another entry like this in the same context:

exten => joeschmo,1,Dial(SIP/skype_joeschmo@proxy01.sipphone.com)

Now just reload your Asterisk dialplan, and you're ready to start calling your Skype buddies around the world from any Asterisk extension.

asterisk -rx "dialplan reload"

The FreePBX Alternative. As has been pointed out in a comment, you can accomplish much the same thing using newer versions of FreePBX without having to muck around in extensions_custom.conf. Just add an Extension, choose the Custom type, provide an Extension Number, a Display Name, and optional SIP Alias. Then insert the following in the dial field, save your entries, and reload the dialplan when prompted.

skype_joeschmo@proxy01.sipphone.com

$20 Buys You Skype Calling Aliases. One of the major drawbacks of Skype always has been the alphanumeric Skype names which make it next to impossible to place Skype calls using regular telephones. Well, Gizmo5 has solved that, too. With your $20 annual subscription which gets you 2-hour Skype calls to your 10 best friends for a year, you now can define new phone numbers to match against your 10 favorite Skype friends. For example, for a user named John Doe, you might choose 564-6363 (JOHN-DOE). Once you sign up for the $20 Skype subscription and configure this alias in your Gizmo account, you can reach John Doe on Skype by dialing 1-333-564-6363 through your Gizmo5 trunk from any Asterisk extension. In your Asterisk setup, just create an outbound route for Gizmo calls with the following dial strings, and you're all set.

1333NXXXXXX
333NXXXXXX

Special thanks to JPE on the PBX in a Flash Forum for the original tip and to Adrian at Gizmo5 Operations for the alias demo. Enjoy!


Want a Bootable PBX in a Flash Drive? Our Atomic Flash bootable USB flash installer for PBX in a Flash has been quite the hit this past week. Thank you to all of our generous contributors! Atomic Flash provides all of the goodies in the VPN in a Flash system featured last month on Nerd Vittles. You can build a complete turnkey system using almost any current generation PC with a SATA drive and this USB flash installer in less than 15 minutes!

If you'd like to put your name in the hat for a chance to win a free one delivered to your door, just post a comment with your best PBX in a Flash story.1

Be sure to include your real email address which will not be posted. The winner will be chosen by drawing an email address out of a hat (the old fashioned way!) from all of the comments posted over the next several weeks.

And it's still not too late to make a contribution of $50 or more to the PBX in a Flash project and get a free Atomic Flash installer delivered to your door as our special thank you gift. See this Nerd Vittles article for details.


New Fonica Special. If you want to communicate with the rest of the telephones in the world, then you'll need a way to route outbound calls (terminations) to their destination. For outbound calling, we recommend you establish accounts with several providers. We've included two of the very best! These include Joe Roper's new service for PBX in a Flash as well as our old favorite, Vitelity. To get started with the Fonica service, just visit the web site and register. You can choose penny a minute service in the U.S. Or premium service is available for a bit more. Try both. You've got nothing to lose! In addition, Fonica offers some of the best international calling rates in the world. And Joe Roper has almost a decade of experience configuring and managing these services. So we have little doubt that you'll love the service AND the support. To sign up in the USA and be charged in U.S. Dollars, sign up here. To sign up for the European Service and be charged in Euros, sign up here. See the Fonica image which tells you everything you need to know about this terrific new offering. In addition to being first rate service, Fonica is one of the least expensive and most reliable providers on the planet.
 
New Vitelity Special. Vitelity has generously offered a new discount for PBX in a Flash users. You now can get an almost half-price DID and 60 free minutes from our special Vitelity sign-up link. If you're seeking the best flexibility in choosing an area code and phone number plus the lowest entry level pricing plus high quality calls, then Vitelity is the hands-down winner. Vitelity provides Tier A DID inbound service in over 3,000 rate centers throughout the US and Canada. And, when you use our special link to sign up, the Nerd Vittles and PBX in a Flash projects get a few shekels down the road while you get an incredible signup deal as well. The going rate for Vitelity's DID service is $7.95 a month which includes up to 4,000 incoming minutes on two simultaneous channels with terminations priced at 1.45¢ per minute. Not any more! For PBX in a Flash users, here's a deal you can't (and shouldn't) refuse! Sign up now, and you can purchase a Tier A DID with unlimited incoming calls for just $3.99 a month and you get a free hour of outbound calling to test out their call quality. To check availability of local numbers and tiers of service from Vitelity, click here. Do not use this link to order your DIDs, or you won't get the special pricing! After the free hour of outbound calling, Vitelity's rate is just 1.44¢ per minute for outbound calls in the U.S. There is a $35 prepay when you sign up. This covers future usage and any balance is fully refundable if you decide to discontinue service with Vitelity.
 


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2 Responses to “Now It’s a No-Brainer: Free Skype Calling with Asterisk”

  1. Mike says:

    Why muck around with extensions_custom.conf when you can do it just as easily from within FreePBX itself? Let’s take your example:

    exten => 563,1,Dial(SIP/skype_joeschmo@proxy01.sipphone.com)

    Create a new custom extension, give it extension number 563, put the string SIP/skype_joeschmo@proxy01.sipphone.com in the dial textbox. Or perhaps better yet, try SIP/joeschmo@opensky.gizmo5.com, which is the method recommended in Tom Keating’s blog.

    [WM: Please excuse our old-fashioned ways of doing things. :-) Not everyone with Asterisk has a newer version of FreePBX that supports custom extensions. But either way works great! Thanks. Using Tom's recommended domain for Skype calls looks like it may only work for the free 5-minute calls since it doesn't appear to require registration. Doesn't work at the moment either. They're apparently swamped with calls.]

  2. business voip solution says:

    One of the best offerings from Skype. I myself would recommend this one for other tech or non-tech people.

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