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Google SIP VoIP URI Address Experiments

Updated on March 8, 2011

Google and SIP

There's something very cool happening with Google Voice just about now. There are hints and half working capabilities being discovered which indicate a massive shift in the way telephone calls will be made in the United States. It looks as if Google is finally allowing people to call each other using SIP URIs.

Wait what?

This might sound a bit crazy to those not in the know, but basically what Google is allowing people to do is to be able to call other people over the Internet for free. No big deal you say. You can already do that using Skype. True. But there are several limitations. For two people to talk on Skype, both of them need to be signed at the same time. Most people don't have Skype running 24x7 on their phones and not everyone even has a Skype address. Moreover, they need a smartphone in the first place. So it's pretty limited.

Imagine however, if you could call a person using Skype for free from anywhere over the Internet. Even from a mobile phone which didn't have Skype enabled software installed on it. Imagine you could call a Skype user using your own VoIP system at work using a regular telephone. That would be huge. And Google is finally doing it.

Google Voice and SIP URIs
Google Voice and SIP URIs

Google Voice URIs

As of now, there are many VoIP providers in the US. Thousands of them in fact. They offer great service at awesome prices. Switching to hosted PBX systems is easy. Calls between users of the same service are free since they can be connected directly over the Internet. There's just one problem. These networks can't talk to each other.

This is because we still use telephone numbers to connect with each other. And since there's no easy universal way to tell whether or not a telephone number is a real old fashioned telephone or a new VoIP number, we have to drop down to the phone network to resolve the call for us. And that costs money. For us to be truly free and go to the next level, we need to stop using telephone numbers and use SIP URIs.

That's what Google Voice seems to be doing. By all indications, the time will come when we can call any Google Voice user from any SIP VoIP application for free over the Internet. And when Google starts, others will follow suit. Once different hosted PBX VoIP solution providers can talk to each other, network externalities will take over and it will probably lead to the eventual demise of the telephone system for regular communication.

That's where we're headed. We're watching the world change right before our eyes. Let's keep them peeled.

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