[u-u] Cheap/free VOIP home phone

Dan Astoorian djast at ecf.utoronto.ca
Sun May 24 13:54:40 EDT 2020

For years I've been using netTALK for my home phone service.  It's
similar to MagicJack--you get a device where you plug a normal phone in
one end and a network cable in the other, and you get VOIP.

The service has never been particularly good.  In the past I've ascribed
that partly to the fact that I've always gone with the cheapest Internet
plan (256Kbps upload speed), but there have been other issues over the
years as well, which I won't get into here.

However, our condo recently renewed our bulk contract with Rogers, and
with traditional TV slowly dying, the renewal included adding Internet
service, which I got enabled last week.

Today I tried to use my netTALK phone for the first time since switching
to the new Rogers cable modem, and had two calls half-terminate after
(almost exactly) 15 minutes--the other party could hear me, but suddenly
I couldn't hear them.  (If that symptom rings a bell for any of the SIP
experts on the list, I'll happily listen to any troubleshooting advice.)

That disappointment has led me once again to looking into other VOIP
providers, and I found freephoneline.ca (a sister company of fongo.com),
and registered an account and got a phone number with them, even though
I don't have a suitable desktop that can run their free client.  I was
thinking I could just use a smartphone VOIP client, and if it works
well, possibly port my netTALK number to it before it's due for renewal,
early next year.

I then discovered that they freephoneline.ca charges a one-time fee of
$99.95 +taxes to "unlock" VOIP and get SIP settings.  It's still looking
like an attractive option to me, though, but I thought I'd check here
before spending the money.  My plan would be to use the native SIP
client on an old Android 4 phone over WiFi.

Has anyone here had any experiences, good or bad, with freephoneline.ca
(the actual service, as opposed to the admittedly nonexistent support)?
Anyone have experiences with other non-business free or low-cost VOIP
providers they would recommend using, or avoiding?


Dan Astoorian, Systems Administrator
Engineering Computing Facility
University of Toronto

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