Voicechat between two persons Intermittently works/doesn't

in Genius Bar edited January 2014
I'm trying to help two friends get voice chat working. They both have the same basic machine, a mid-2004 15-inch PowerBook running Mac OS X 10.4.3 with iChat 3.1. One of them has an iSight; the other uses her built-in laptop microphone.

They are both behind college firewalls; that much is clear. As such, they are very limited in their options. Audio chat via Skype works fine, as its network traversal is very flexible, but they would prefer to use iChat, especially since they may both have an iSight soon and will thus want to use video chat as well.

I have had them run bandwidth checks; clearly that is not the problem with several Megabits per second of downstream and several hundreds of Kilobits per second of upstream available in both cases.

The symptoms? Well, if either of them tries to establish a connection with each other, most of the time, they will get a "did not respond" message. *Sometimes*, however, it works just fine.

As per a hint on macosxhints, I have had them use port 80 rather than the default AIM port to connect. (They both use AIM.) This apparently made it work more often, but still not always.

Having read through many pages of FAQs and hints on this site and others, I am still at a loss as to why this would work *sometimes*. If it wouldn't work *at all*, I could understand: the two may just be out of luck thanks to firewalls. But that is clearly not the case.

Both persons can connect to me and I can connect to both persons. The problem only occurs when they connect to each other, no matter which direction.


1) Would it make any difference for them to use Jabber instead?

2) Would using Bonjour and creating a Bonjour proxy help in any way?

3) Or a general kind of proxy, for that matter?

4) Finally, how is it possible that it randomly works?
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