freephoneline uses Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology for its phone service. You can sign up with their service for free online. Their website provides you a real Canadian phone number (your choice from random phone numbers generated by their system) upon signing up. You can make phone calls right away using a softphone (a software program for making phone calls from your PC) or Android and iOS App on your mobile device as long as you have a data plan or a Wi-Fi connection.
The phone calls are free as long as the cities (you are calling) are on their free calling city list. If you wish to use your regular telephone handsets with their service, you need to buy your own analog telephone adapter (ATA) and purchase a configuration file (VoIP Unlock Key) for your ATA. Once your ATA is setup with the configuration file and connected to Ethernet modem, you can hook up your regular telephone to the ATA and start making and receiving phone calls. Please note, freephoneline does not offer any support for a 3rd party ATA.
How to set up freephoneline as your home phone (the simple way)
A much simpler to way to use freephoneline as a regular home phone is by installing the Fongo App (formerly Dell Voice) on your mobile device and connecting it to a Bluetooth enabled telephone.
Getting a Bluetooth enabled telephone with multiple handsets would allow you to use freephoneline’s phone service in different areas/rooms of your place so much more like using a typical home telephone. Here’s how to set it up: you will install the Fongo App on your mobile device (Wifi required). Pair the mobile device with your Bluetooth-enabled telephone. Once paired up, the mobile device will automatically connect to your home telephone whenever you go home. To receive and make phone calls at home, you can simply pick up any handsets at your place just as if you were using a regular telephone.
If you prefer to keep your home phone number separate from your mobile phone, you could install the Fongo App on a tablet or old smartphone that never leaves your place. Pair this device with your Bluetooth-enabled telephone. After the setup, you could experience more traditional landline experience since your mobile phone and home phone are kept separate.
For this tactic to work, you will need to sign-up two separate accounts with Fongo. One Fongo account for your home phone (which you install on the tablet or old smartphone), and one for your mobile device for texting other Fongo users or making long distance phones in Canada for free. There are two drawbacks of this setup: 1. you need to occasionally check the battery level of the mobile device or you might miss calls if they run out of power. 2. Porting of your existing home phone number is not possible with this setup.
freephoneline offers standard telephone features such as Caller ID, Voicemail and Follow Me Service (essentially a Call Forwarding service; however, you can forward up to 3 different phone numbers) are included. Call Waiting is not advertising but it is reported to be working (you have to set it up in your ATA). The Enhanced Voicemail feature allows your voicemails to be sent to your email account.
In addition, porting of your existing phone number is possible (for most cities) for a fee which makes their service attractive for those who have had their number for a long time and would like to continue using it.
Cost to set up freephoneline
Depending on your current home phone bill, you can recover the initial setup cost (if buying an ATA and a VoIP Unlock Key) within 3 – 6 months, (over 10 months if you are using a low-cost VoIP phone provider such as iTalkBB which already offers a fairly low monthly rate). If you use the Fongo App and Bluetooth telephone combo above, the only investment is the Bluetooth phone assuming you already own a smartphone.
It might sound too good to be true, but after the initial setup (ATA & VoIP Unlock Key or Bluetooth telephone) is paid off, you will never pay another phone bill again!
Our only concern is how long can freephoneline’s parent company, Fongo, offer this service for free? We assume their revenue comes from porting services, selling long-distance credits and VoIP Unlock Keys, subscriber fees from the Fongo Home Phone service, but is it enough? The good news is the company has been around since 2007, so they must be doing something right to remain in business despite giving away the freephoneline.ca VoIP phone service for free.
VoIP phone service limitations
Please remember VoIP phone service is dependent on your Internet or mobile data/Wi-Fi connection. You will lose your VoIP phone service if there is a network or power outage.
Also, you must keep your address up-to-date in case of emergencies because unlike traditional phone line, there is no easy way to confirm your location other than your last registered address with the VoIP phone provider.
Lastly, given there are many variables that may interrupt VoIP phone service (E.g. network/power outage or any issues with your ATA, DSL modem or even your Internet router), it is not as reliable as traditional telephone (which still works during a power outage), it is probably not a good idea to use VoIP phone as your primary phone service; especially if you do not have a cell phone as backup.
- PC (if using softphone)
- Mobile device with cellular data or a Wi-Fi connection (Optional)
- High-speed Internet
- Headset with microphone or speakers and microphone (if using softphone)
- Analog Telephone Adaptor a.k.a. ATA (required if you wish to use your regular telephone) (see prices here)
- Configuration file (VoIP Unlock Key) – if you already own an ATA (required if you wish to use your regular telephone)
- Ethernet router/DSL or cable modem
- Bluetooth enabled cordless phone with multiple handsets (Optional) (see prices here)
You will appreciate freephoneline.ca because:
- It’s free.
- Fongo App turns your mobile devices (including iPod, iPad, Android tablets… with Wi-Fi) into a free phone.
- No monthly bills.
- No contract.
- Free unlimited calling to most cities in Canada.
- Porting of your current phone number is available in most cities (for a fee).
- While travelling, you can call back to Canada for free.
- You can pick a real Canadian phone number.
- No upfront cost if you already own a PC (softphone) or a mobile phone.
- Caller ID, Call Waiting, Voicemail are included.
- Conference Calling, Follow Me Service (Call Forwarding) & E911 are included.
- Voicemails could be sent to your email account.
- Easy to sign-up online.
- Auto-renew for pre-paid World Credits for making international long distance calls.
- Competitive international long distance rates.
You might not appreciate it because:
- No live-person customer support. All inquiries including billing (if you purchase prepaid credits for making international calls) are done via emails.
- Using your PC (softphone) to make and receive phone calls may not be as convenient as regular home phone service (unless you buy an ATA and VoIP Unlock Key or buy a Bluetooth enabled telephone and install the Fongo App on your mobile phone)
- You need to purchase a configuration file (VoIP Unlock Key) from freephoneline.ca and a VoIP phone adapter (buy your own or from freephoneline.ca) in order for their service to function like a regular telephone.
- There is no support for 3rd party ATA so you will need to set up the configuration file on your own.
- Porting of existing phone numbers are not available in all cities (also, a fee for porting your phone number is applicable).
- Keeping your existing number (number porting) service is not as simple as some companies (you need to print out a form and email or fax it with a copy of your current telephone bill to freephoneline). Some competitors just need you to fill out an online form.
- Receiving fax is possible but not guaranteed.
- The need to purchase pre-paid World Credits for making long distance phone calls is not as convenient as paying for only the minutes used.
- Only one phone jack is available from the VoIP phone adapter so you would need a cordless phone with multiple handsets (if you need handsets in different rooms).
- Uncertainty about the company’s future due to no monthly fees structure.
- Usability is susceptible to power/network outage.
- 911 service is dependent on the point above.
- Not as reliable as traditional phone service.
- Not recommended for use with a home alarm monitoring system.
- Voice quality and reliability may vary due to factors such as Internet speed, ATA, Ethernet router, phone frequencies/location, software compression, etc.
- Security concerns, given the voice data travels through the Internet, the data is vulnerable to theft, viruses, spam, etc.
How to make freephoneline.ca VoIP experience better?
- freephoneline’s parent company is Fongo Inc. If you feel there is too much hassle to purchase the ATA, the VoIP Unlock Key and need to configure the ATA on your own, Fongo does offer a home phone service for a small fee plus taxes (however, still no live person support). Read Fongo Home Phone Here.
- If you use your mobile phone with freephoneline’s Fongo App installed, you can purchase a Bluetooth enabled home telephone. Once your mobile device is connected to this Bluetooth enabled phone, it will allow you to use freephoneline’s free phone service as if you are using a regular landline. (see price here)
- Always use your mobile phone as a backup in case of a power/network outage
- Use a cheap Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) to power your modem and ATA in case of a power outage. (see price here)
freephoneline.ca is a great option for eliminating your home phone bill as long as you have a high-speed Internet connection and a PC or mobile device with a data plan.
You can sign up easily online for free and pick a working local Canadian phone number to make phone calls right away. You can make unlimited calls to most Canadian cities for free. freephoneline can also port your existing number (one time charge applicable) if you decide to use it as your primary home phone service.
If you wish to use a regular telephone with freephoneline’s service, you have two options. The first option costs more and is more complicated. You will need to buy your own VoIP Internet Phone Adapter (ATA) and purchase the VoIP Unlock Key from freephoneline. The biggest hassle with this setup is that freephoneline doesn’t offer any technical support. Therefore, you are on your own to deal with configuring the ATA and any technical issues. This is a perfect example of you get what you pay for.
We much prefer the other option of just installing the Fongo Mobile App on your mobile device. Connecting your mobile device to a Bluetooth enabled home telephone. In this case, you will be answering and making phone calls like a regular home phone. This option can avoid the frustration of setting up your own ATA. The main drawback of this setup is you can not port your existing phone number.
All in all, if the lack of support doesn’t bother you, you can’t really go wrong with freephoneline’s phone service and Fongo App. What’s not to like when it is truly free?
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