I currently pay SkyPE $3/month to make unlimited calls across the USA and Canada (ie, the NANPA "1" international dialing code), and, less importantly, pay them about $4 month for an inbound telephone number.
However, I'm unhappy with SkyPE's overall service and am concerned their Linux support may decline in the future.
I realize I probably won't find something as inexpensive, but what reasonably priced alternatives exist with the following features (all of which SkyPE has):
no hardware required, softphone only
ability to call "real" phone numbers, not just other free SIP users
fixed monthly fee for unlimited calling (within reasonable use criteria), not a per-minute plan
ability to set caller ID to a number I own, either my non-SkyPE cell phone number or a local number I purchase. Some "real" phone numbers now auto-reject the caller ID "UNKNOWN" or its variants.
ability to conference multiple phone numbers, ideally at no extra charge
Although SkyPE doesn't have this ability directly, I'd also like the ability to record both outbound and inbound phone calls, although I'd settle for a solution without this feature.
I have googled around, and here's what I've found:
There are lots of free softphones around, but it's not clear to me which ones can call "real" phone numbers and/or whether that's even a sensible question. I'm pretty sure a real phone number has a SIP address too, but I'm guessing you need some sort additional service to actually reach that SIP address.
There are lots of VOIP services out there, but many come with their own box, and it's not clear whether they support softphones or not.
My overall sense is that I need to glue a softphone and a VOIP service together, but it's not clear to me which softphones and which VOIP services are gluable in Linux.
Ideally, I'd like a Linux friendly service, one that supports Linux, unlike some companies that allow Linux, but don't support it.
If no one has a specific solution, I'd appreciate knowing what key phrases/terms I should be googling for.
I believe this question is similar enough to Secure FOSS alternative to Skype on Linux & OpenBSD? that it shouldn't be closed, but different enough that it warrants its own question.