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Thoughts on Free Communication

Mithat Konar

Copyright © 2012 Mithat Konar. All rights reserved.


  • Mobile data is almost ubiquitous.
  • Makes it possible to contemplate a libre alternative to telecoms.
  • Communication means should be:
    • decoupled from the data provider(s).
    • controlled by the user, not the provider.


  • You should have the option to self-host the service.
    • Ideally FOSS.
    • If self-hosting not possible, then an open API is possibly acceptable.
  • Open standards
  • End-to-end encryption


  • The service(s) should offer:
    • voice communication
    • text messaging
    • video communication
  • Until critical mass is attained, incoming/outgoing POTS bridge is arguably mandatory.

Some options

  • XMPP + Jingle
  • SIP
  • Integrated providers (Skype, Google Voice, TruPhone, etc.)


  • XMPP + Jingle
    • Self-hosting: yes
    • Voice: yes
    • Text: yes (not SMS)
    • Video: yes
    • POTS: no (I think)


  • SIP
    • Self-hosting: yes
    • Voice: yes
    • Text: yes
    • Video: ?
    • POTS: yes (provider dependent)


  • Integrated providers
    • Self-hosting: no
    • Voice: yes
    • Text: yes (some providers offer SMS as well)
    • Video: yes
    • POTS: yes
    • Comments:
      • Skype uses closed-standard and proprietary codecs. Others may also.

Evaluation (tabulated)

Self-hosting Voice Text Video POTS
XMPP + Jingle yes yes yes yes no?
SIP yes yes yes ? yes†
Integrated providers no yes‡ yes†† yes yes

†Provider dependent
‡Skype uses closed-standard and proprietary codecs. Others may also.
††Some with SMS


  • XMPP + Jingle: Limited by lack of POTS bridge
  • SIP: ?
  • Integrated providers:
    • Not free
      • Open APIs available for some.
      • Some (most? all?) use closed/proprietary codecs.
    • No self-hosting
thoughts_on_free_communication.txt · Last modified: 2013/03/18 00:20 by mithat

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