[Linux-aus] NBN discussion

Russell Stuart russell-linuxaus at stuart.id.au
Sun Jun 30 22:55:02 EST 2013

On Sun, 2013-06-30 at 12:21 +0800, Bret Busby wrote:
> Whlst this is (apparently) not yet available in the VOIP software 
> applications available for Debian Linux 6, it is, I believe, available 
> for Skype for Windows (and so, hopefully, it will be "only a matter of 
> time" before it becomes available in a relatively stable software 
> package for open source operating systems).

There are in fact many VOIP phones available for Linux, and Debian.

But given how you worded this perhaps we should step back a bit.
Firstly, there are many VOIP protocols.  Skype, Google Hangouts, H232,
SIP to name a few of the better known ones.

Skype and Google Hangouts are propriety protocols.  In fact they are
secret protocols, and the only software that implements comes from
Microsoft and Google respectively.

H232 and SIP are open standards, H232 is from the ITT and SIP is defined
by an RFC from the IETF.  As seems to be the way in these things, the
more open process won the ensuing standards war and thus the protocol
everyone uses protocol is SIP.  When you see a Cisco phone, or a Polycom
phone, or an Aastra phone (all of which are very common in businesses),
they are all based on the SIP protocol.  And although most people don't
realise it, all Android phones have the SIP stack integrated into the
base OS, usable from the standard Android dialler.  In fact so did the
latter Symbian phones.  Thus I used my Nokia E70 as my office desk
phone, and now I use my Android phone to do the same thing.

Debian has clients implementing all protocols - Skype, Hangout's, H232
and SIP.  But since SIP is most popular, it has the most open source
clients.  Most of the SIP clients listed on the Wikipedia page are
available for Debian:


OK, maybe not that interesting.  But the amusing part of Russell Coker's
rant was where he said "if only your home phone could redirect to your
mobile".  Every NBN router comes with two Analogue Phone Adapters
(ATA's), which you plug a normal phone into.  Those ATA's translate the
analogue phone signal into SIP.  The NBN provides, for free, 150Kbs of
bandwith for those ATA's, so as far as the NBN is concerned they carry
the normal "land line" for free.

To put it another way, the NBN are envisaged by Labor doesn't just
replace all the copper wires with fibre.  It throws away the entire
phone system as we know it, replacing it with VOIP running over SIP.
Under such a scenario it should be trivial for anyone to redirect their
house line to their Android mobile phone, as Russell wanted to do.  The
very thing he was attacking would make what he wanted possible, for

Mind you, it would also be trivial for Android to route voice calls over
WiFi if connected and 3G if not, thus robbing the wireless networks of a
significant slice of their revenue.  We, or at least our Telco's, live
in interesting times.

To me this re-architecting of our phone system is a visionary step
forward.  Being the first country to do it, it would give our IT
companies a significant push forward in a world destined to run
everything over the internet instead of the phone system. Whether the
Lib's version of the "NBN" would implement this vision is an open
question, so open I doubt if even Turnbull knows the answer.

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