“on ‘Maddog’ Hall, the president of open-source organisation Linux International, told the LinuxWorld Expo in London on Wednesday that open-source voice-over-IP (VoIP) will be bigger than Linux.

‘I predict that over next three years, VoIP using an open-source solution, such as Asterisk, will generate more business than the entire Linux marketplace today,’ said Hall.

Halls explained that the open-source project Asterisk provides a cheaper alternative to proprietary PBX solutions, which are used by many companies today to provide telephone services.

‘Today’s PBX solutions are incredibly expensive, closed source and proprietary. Asterisk is approximately one-tenth of the price of a proprietary PBX system,’ claimed Hall.

According to the Asterisk Web site, the software can interoperate with almost all standards-based telephony equipment using relatively inexpensive hardware and provides features such as voicemail services, call conferencing and call queuing.

Hall said to ZDNet UK that he expects numerous companies to start providing services for Asterisk, including installation, support and third-party applications.

Hall is not the first to predict a bright future for VoIP. Michael Robertson, the founder of SIPphone, which specialises in Internet telephony, said last week that he believes that VoIP will grow much faster than Linux, although he did not mention the role that open -source could play.”