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Sipgate, an Austin, Texas-based provider of voice-over-IP (VoIP) services on the Web, has announced via email that it will be shutting down its offerings — at least those in the U.S. — on Oct. 31. The shutdown comes just four years after sipgate launched its free VoIP service in the U.S., offering users free phone numbers, free voicemail and a host of other features.

sipgate-closing-emailUnlike Skype and other VoIP solutions, sipgate is not a stand-alone client. The service borrows part of its name from the acronym SIP, which stands for “session initiation protocol” — a protocol that handles VoIP sessions online.

In order to make and receive calls through sipgate, users must download a SIP voice client and manually enter sipgate’s server information, as well as their own username and password. This presents more of a learning curve than competing VoIP offerings on the market.

The company covered its free products by selling VoIP services to businesses, bundling packages of three, five and ten user accounts for a monthly fee. It seems reasonable to believe that, if sipgate had been doing well selling VoIP to businesses, it could have simply cut out its free products and concentrated solely on its premium services.

Shutting everything down seems to indicate that the company was not doing well and sales were not high enough to sustain the company, much less its free VoIP products.

A call placed to sipgate’s press telephone number came back with a message stating, “An error has occurred.” An email has been sent to sipgate requesting more clarity on the shutdown, and we’ll update this article as soon as we know more.

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