Communication in the post-PRISM world

In Production

You'll want to run FreeSWITCH in the foreground while you work out your own phone framework because the CLI offers comprehensive warnings and errors that are essential to help you debug your configuration files. When your phone setup is complete, you can consider running FreeSWITCH as a daemon and turning it into a service that runs in the background and runs every time the server gets booted.

For all practical purposes, you now have a working intranet equivalent to Skype, but you also have much more. Besides phoning other users on the network, you can record conversations, create groups of users you can phone all at once (the first user to pick up their phone "captures" the call), create conference calls, set up videoconferencing [10] and, if you run a VPN, allow colleagues, family, and friends to communicate securely using the service from beyond your premises. If you have a VoIP line from your carrier, you can also easily configure FreeSWITCH to link to the outside world through the conventional phone network.

Conclusion

The thing about services like Skype (and Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, etc.) is that a lot of people use them precisely because a lot of people use them. Once you transcend this circular logic, however, you may realize that being able to phone everyone for free and letting a third party do the heavy lifting is not such an enormous advantage if it means sharing your sensitive conversations with organizations that have no business snooping into your calls. At that point, avoiding Microsoft's phone service by implementing your own starts to make sense.

Additionally, setting up a basic Skype-like system is not hard with open source software. You can have basic and secure SIP services working with FreeSWITCH's out-of-the-box installation up and running in minutes. That said, building on the basic setup and using FreeSWITCH to expand your telephony services is a very interesting and tempting project. However, you should note that phone systems are complex and audio- and videoconferencing are still hard to do, so, if you are overambitious, you could find yourself in over your head. But, that's half the fun, isn't it?

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