Back in the Fall of 1995, with the help of some friends, Free World Dialup (FWD) version 1.0 happened. The original concept was to setup a computer, modem and let a friend (or a stranger) place a call over the internet via your computer. This was done on an experimental, non-commercial, voluntary basis and we had quite a number of people who contributed their own time, effort and energy to make it work. FWD was the world's first internet telephony network and was a pioneer in the field of PC to Phone communication services.Link (via Seth Johnson)
Back in November 2000 I once again looked at re-creating the spirit of the original FWD project but this time we tried to do it using the broadband internet. After several months of work we were able to get the underlying software to work pretty good, but our project became challenged once the hardware devices we optimized the software for, the Cisco ATA-182 were discontinued. We were live in beta in April 2001 when CNET ran the story: Can a peer-to-peer phone network fly?.
[...]With the beta launch of Bellster.net we are finally able to offer a peer-to-peer network where members of the network can share their PSTN access with each other. This "network" will only become a network once there is a critical mass number of people who are contributing to the success of Bellster. Bellster is based on a couple of underlying philosophies:
(1) "If you Build it They will Come" -- Field of Dreams (2) "The Love you Take is equal to the Love you Make" -- Beatles, "The End"
The Bellster challenge for 2005 is to find out whether or not there are still people in the world who would let total strangers place non-commercial phone calls for free in exchange for the ability to do the same thing themselves. At the moment we have a handful of active nodes around the world, and as the word of Bellster spreads, my hope is that our network will be able to deliver calls to the PSTN all around the world.