From looking back over my phone records, it looks like today marks the beginning of my second year of VoIP. I’m 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, I’m feeling pretty good about this. Of course, it’s probably best to ignore the $600 or so in VoIP hardware that I’ve purchased over the past year–it sort of screws up the cost-benefit equation.
Asterisk has grown a lot in the last 12 months–it’s 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, it’s starting to be usable by people without a deep understanding of Linux, networking, and phone systems.
On the other hand, some problems still haven’t went away–it’s 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 another–they have bad support, or their terms of service are bizarre, or they don’t actually have any numbers in my local calling area. Hopefully a handful of solid providers will pop up this year, and I’ll actually be able to recommend them to people without any disclaimers.