freephoneline.ca uses Voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology. 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 computer) or Android and iPhone app. 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 phone to the ATA and start making and receiving phone calls. Please note, freephoneline.ca does not offer any support for a 3rd party ATA.
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 (although not guaranteed and available in all cities) for a fee which makes their service attractive for those who have had their number for a long time and would like to keep using it.
Depending on your current home phone bill, you can recover the initial setup cost within 3 - 6 months, (over 10 months if you are using a VoIP phone company such as iTalkBB which already offers very low monthly rate). It might sound too good to be true, but after the initial setup is paid off, you will never pay for your phone bills again! The only concern is that the sustainability of the company is unknown because freephoneline.ca does not collect any monthly fees for providing their service. As such, their revenue is probably dependant on long-distance charges and selling "VoIP Unlock Keys" to new customers.
Please remember VoIP phone service is dependant on your Internet connection so you will lose your 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 tra
ditional phone line, there is no easy way to confirm your location other than your last registered address with the company. Lastly, given the technology is not as reliable as traditional phone, it is probably not a good idea to use it as the primary phone line; especially if you do not have a cell phone as backup.
Computer PC or Mac (if using softphone only)
High Speed Internet
Headset with microphone or speakers and microphone
Analog Telephone Adaptor a.k.a. ATA (required if you wish to use your regular telephone)
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
Cordless phone with multiple handsets (optional)
You might like it because:
No monthly bills
Free unlimited calling to select cities in Canada
Easy to sign-up online
You can pick a real Canadian phone number (from random phone numbers until you are satisfied)
Making and receiving phone calls immediately on your computer as soon as the freephoneline software is installed
Porting of your current phone number is available in most cities (for a fee)
Caller ID, Voicemail, Follow Me Service (same as Call Forwarding), Call Waiting.
Voicemails could be sent to your email account
Auto-renew for pre-paid World Credits for making long distance phone calls
You might not fall in love with it because:
No live-person customer support. All inquiries including billing are done via emails
Using your computer (softphone) to make and receive phone calls may not be as convenient as regular home phone service
You need to purchase a a configuration file (VoIP Unlock Key) from freephoneline.ca and a VoIP phone adapter (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 time. The set up time then depends on your computer skills. There is s no live-person support
Porting of existing phone numbers are not available in all cities (also, a fee for porting your phone number is applicable)
Number porting process 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.ca). 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 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 phones 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 dependant 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.
Where to get it?
Your own ATA (optional) - computer or electronics stores
Configuration file (VoIP Unlock Key) (optional) - freephoneline.ca
Computer - electronic stores, computer stores
High Speed Internet - your local Internet Service Provider
Headset with microphone or computer speakers and microphone - computer stores
DSL or cable modem - usually supplied by your local Internet Service Provider
Cordless phone with multiple handsets (optional) - electronic stores
How to enhance this setup:
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 monthly fee (however, still no live-person support): http://www.freephoneline.ca/optionalServices#
Always use your cell phone as a back up 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
freephoneline.ca is a great option for eliminating your home phone bill as long as you have a High Speed Internet connection. You can sign up easily online for free and pick a working local Canadian phone number for making phone calls right away. You can make unlimited calls to most Canadian cities for free. You can also port your existing number to freephoneline for a fee. The only catch is you can only make and receive phone calls using your computer. If you wish to use a regular telephone with freephoneline.ca's service, you will need to buy/supply your own VoIP Internet Phone Adapter (ATA) (see "Product Info/Reviews section on the right for options) and the VoIP Unlock Key from freephoneline. The biggest hassle may be there is no live-person support in general and no support at all for any ATA and VoIP Unlock Key issues. Therefore, you are on your own to deal with configuring the ATA and any technical issues. If the lack of support doesn't bother you, then once the ATA is set up, you will never pay for another phone bill!