Fongo Home Phone uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology for its phone service. Basically this means you make phone calls via the Internet. All you need is a Fongo Home Phone adapter, a regular telephone and high-speed Internet and you can make unlimited calls to most cities in Canada for free for low monthly fee.
Cost and calling features
Fongo Home Phone is one of “budget” VoIP operators in Canada. At the time of writing, you only need to shell out five loonies per month to receive their home phone service as long as you have a stable high-speed Internet connection. The only upfront cost is the purchase of Fongo’s VoIP phone adapter (plus shipping) and an one-time porting fee if you plan to keep your existing phone number. Like many VoIP providers, Fongo Home Phone offers plenty of free calling features that include: voice mail, caller ID, call waiting, call forwarding, voicemail to email and 911 service.
Sign-up steps and tips
You can subscribe to Fongo Home Phone service online or via telephone with their toll-free number. According to Fongo, their unlimited free calling service covers 85% of population in Canada. This means if the Canadian city you are trying to reach is outside of their free calling cities, you will need to pay long distance charges. In such cases, upon signing up, Fongo gives you free credits (which is good for more than an hour of long distance talk time, current rate is two cents per minutes in Canada). If signing up online, you would be given the option to purchase additional credit (called World Credits) if you plan to make long distance phone calls.
If you want to keep your existing phone number, Fongo offers an automated process which confirms whether your phone number is transferable or not. During the registration process, Fongo will collect your personal info and address for 911 purpose which is required by law. You will also be asked to select a new phone number regardless if you have requested to port your number or not because you would need a temporary phone number while the porting service is being processed (takes 10 – 15 days). An important tip, if you request Fongo to port your current phone number, Fongo advises not to contact your current phone provider about it to ensure a smooth phone number transfer.
Also, requesting Fongo to port your number basically means you are cancelling your current home phone service. Before doing so, you should be aware of cancellation policies of your current home phone provider to avoid any penalties or charges. On the other hand, you would need to cancel with your current home phone provider yourself if you are not porting your number. But you may want to delay cancelling immediately to ensure you are satisfied with Fongo Home Phone service first. Once the registration is complete and all charges paid, Fongo will arrange to ship a pre-configured VoIP phone adapter to you in order to use their phone service. Note: an one-month fee deposit is charged at registration.
How to install Fongo Home Phone Adapter
Fongo’s pre-configured VoIP phone adapter (Grandstream HT701 ATA) has only three ports at the back: Internet, power and a phone jack. You simply connect your Ethernet cable that carries your Internet connection to the port that is labelled as “Internet” (a empty port from your router is required because no Wifi option is available), plug in the power and connect your telephone to the phone jack and you are ready to make and receive calls.
It is possible to plug in the Fongo phone adapter to one jack which will power the rest of the jacks in your home. But this 1st jack (called Demarcation Point) is often located in the garage or basement where Internet connection from a Ethernet cable might be difficult to come by. A simpler solution to have wide handset coverage at your place is to connect the Fongo phone adapter to a multi-handset cordless phone system. This way, you can place handsets around the house for ease of receiving and making phone calls in different rooms.
What if you need help?
Fongo Home Phone does not offer live-person support via the telephone or Webchat. For any technical issues, you must submit a “support ticket” or look for answers from their website and Fongo User Forum. In this regard, Fongo falls short as compared to other VoIP phone service providers because most offer at least some form of live-person support.
What you will need to use Fongo Home Phone VoIP service:
- A pre-configured VoIP phone adapter from Fongo Home Phone (Grandstream HT701 ATA)
- Ethernet router/DSL or cable modem
- Cordless phone with multiple handsets (Optional) (see prices here)
You will appreciate Fongo Home Phone because:
- Low monthly fee.
- No contract.
- No cancellation fee.
- 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 bring Fongo Home Phone adapter with you can call back to Canada for free.
- You can pick a real Canadian phone number.
- 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.
- Competitive international long distance rates.
You might not appreciate it because:
- Purchase of Fongo Home Phone adapter plus shipping is required in order to use Fongo’s phone service.
- Not all Canadian cities are on Fongo Home Phone’s free calling cities (which means you will be paying long distance charges)
- No live-person customer support. All inquiries including billing (if you purchase prepaid credits for making international calls) are done via emails.
- Porting of existing phone numbers are not available in all cities (also, a fee for porting your phone number is applicable).
- Receiving fax is possible but not promoted by Fongo Home Phone.
- The need to purchase pre-paid World Credits for making long distance phone calls is not as good 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). Alternatively, you can connect phone adapter to 1st jack at your place (called Demarcation Point)
- Usability is susceptible to power/network outage.
- 911 service is dependent on point above.
- Not as reliable as traditional phone service.
- Not recommended for use with 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 Fongo Home Phone VoIP experience better?
- 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)
Fongo Home Phone is a good VoIP home phone option if you are looking for a cheap home telephone alternative. There’s no contract or cancellation fee. The monthly fee is quite reasonable. The only shortcoming is in its live-person support department where you communicate with Fongo via email. On a different note, from a business perspective, Fongo might be doing itself a disservice because it also offers freephoneline.ca service and its Fongo mobile app for FREE. This makes Fongo Home Phone’s monthly fee more difficult to justify.
If you have read our review of freephoneline.ca, the main difference between freephoneline.ca and Fongo Home Phone essentially is: you get a pre-configured phone adapter (ATA) from Fongo Home Phone plus its email support. For some, purchasing your own ATA and tinker with its settings so freephoneline.ca service would work flawlessly requires knowledge, time and effort. Fongo definitely addresses this issue by charging for it because you receive a pre-configured home adapter. If you believe these differences warrant a monthly fee then Fongo Home Phone is worth considering. Before you do so though, be sure to go over Fongo Home Phone’s Free Calling Cities so you don’t end up paying for unnecessary long distance calls within Canada.
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