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Digium changes to subscription pricing for telephony product

Annual support subscriptions, common among open-source software companies, now are available from a firm that sells a combination of hardware and software.

Update: I clarified some wording in the last paragraph to make it clear that the subscription price includes the hardware, not just support.

I confess that, years ago, I was one of those people who was skeptical and somewhat uncomprehending when Linux seller Red Hat changed its pricing to a subscription model, charging for software updates and support over a set period of time. Traditional software companies charge for a license to use a particular piece of technology, but that doesn't work as well in the open-source domain, where getting access to the software itself is easy and free.

Now, with many open-source software companies also offering subscriptions, the approach seems comparatively ordinary. So it should come as no surprise that Digium, which commercializes the open-source Asterix software for Internet telephony, announced this week that it's chosen the subscription model to sell its wares.

The difference here is that Huntsville, Ala.-based Digium sells hardware along with the software, a product called the Digium Asterisk Appliance. In the past, the company sold software, hardware and service as separate options. Now the company is switching to the new model, under which customers will be able to pay for silver, gold and platinum levels of support and warranty subscriptions, a company representative said.

The cheapest subscription level, silver, starts at $1,145 per year, a price that includes the company's voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) product. It's available in the United States and Canada and will be available internationally next quarter.