looking back over my phone records, it looks like today marks the
beginning of my second year of VoIP. Im not sure which day I actually
set up my Asterisk server, but I signed up with NuFone
on March 23, 2004, one year ago today. At the time, I paid them $30 for
pre-paid long-distance service, and have been chiseling away at that
ever since. This morning, I still had $3.423 left of the original $30.
Since my monthly long-distance bill was around $20 before I started
sending long-distance calls out over VoIP, Im feeling pretty good
about this. Of course, its probably best to ignore the $600 or so in
VoIP hardware that Ive purchased over the past yearit sort of screws
up the cost-benefit equation.
Asterisk has grown a lot in the last 12 monthsits reached version
1.0, and is rapidly approaching v1.1. Asterisk itself is very usable as
a corporate PBX, and with tools like the Asterisk Management Portal and Asterisk@Home, its starting to be usable by people without a deep understanding of Linux, networking, and phone systems.
On the other hand, some problems still havent went awayits still
really hard to find decent providers that sell local numbers across the
country at decent rates. A year ago, good DID providers were almost
completely nonexistent. Now there are a half-dozen or so companies that
sell DIDs for Asterisk, but most of them are flaky in one way or
anotherthey have bad support, or their terms of service are bizarre,
or they dont actually have any numbers in my local calling area.
Hopefully a handful of solid providers will pop up this year, and Ill actually be able to recommend them to people without any disclaimers.