Teamspeak is one of the best kept secrets in VoIP, hidden in the dark bowels of the online gaming community. Teamspeak offers a scalable VoIP application which enables many users to simultaneously speak to one another. It was designed with the online gaming community in mind. In fact, I am told that Teamspeak has over 1 million online users (compared with Skype's 3 million). Considering that online gamers often spend hours per day playing online games, Teamspeak may actually have more users online on a daily basis than Skype.
Teamspeak consists of both client and server software and best of all Teamspeak is free of charge to non-commercial users. The Teamspeak server acts as a host to multiple client connections, capable of handling thousands of simultaneous users. Essentially, this solution creates a "teleconferencing" system that enables not only gamers to talk with one another over IP, but it also enables business professionals to hold VoIP teleconferences. Of course, if used for a business application, you do have to pay a one-time licensing fee, but I'm sure it would work out to be less than most teleconferencing solutions which charge a per-minute rate.
It features Windows/Linux cross-platform design for both the client and server, a built-in web based administration panel for the server, and a highly scalable user permissions system.
Other features include:
- Optimal bandwidth usage with codecs ranging from CELP 5.1Kbit to GSM 16.4Kbit to Speex 25.9Kbit for optimal voice clarity
- Local addressbook allows you to connect to your favorite servers
- Webserver list allows you to find TeamSpeak servers without their IP
- Flexible permission system
- Channel and subchannel creation
- Built-in web administration interface allowing you full control over your server via your web browser
- One server-instance can run multiple virtual servers which results in hassle-free administration
- Telnet access to your server-instance as well as to all virtual servers
- Client is designed to work well with firewalls and routers
- Passworded servers and channels
- Completely configurable keybindings (hotkeys) to quickly join specified channels, mute your microphone, etc.
- Whisper functions so you can speak privately to inidividuals, groups of persons, or other channels
- Auto voice normalizing (no need to adjust your mic manually)
- Supports Microsoft Gamevoice (TM) hardware
- Windows/Linux server
- Windows/Linux client
- Event driven sound notifications (which can be configured individually)
- Text messaging in the client (for those complicated URL's or IP's) and clickable links
- IRC-like admin functions for your server (like serveradmin, channel admin, operators)
- Channel moderation, which is useful for holding meetings in channels with many users
- Kicking / banning people
- Seemless optional MySQL integration, allowing you to customize your server database
- Minimal CPU and RAM requirements
- Given bandwidth requirements are met, servers can easily handle thousands of users
- Authorized Teamspeak Host Providers (ATHPs) and other Commercial users can integrate their own clickable banner in the client
So you have your choice of "renting" a hosted Teamspeak server for your teleconferencing needs or you can download it and install it yourself to a Windows or Linux server. I think owning my own little "teleconferencing" system for all my buddies to join is pretty cool. Of course, my own "little private VoIP community" might draw the ire of the FBI who will demand I enable wiretapping on the private VoIP conferencing system due to CALEA regulations.