VOIP is Voice over IP or Voice over Internet Protocol - using IP networks like the Internet to route phone calls vs using a regular land-line also known as POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service).
This setup can be totally free by using a "soft phone" on your PC or Mac and with a small initial investment it is possible to use a regular phone and still have a free VOIP phone line in Canada - or a Canadian phone number somewhere else in the world.
- Get a real phone number
- No monthly phone bill
- Call many cities in Canada free
This Instructable will cover getting a phone number, setting it up as a "soft phone" on your PC or Mac
But it gets better - with the correct VoIP/ATA device (an "Obihai") and configuration we can bridge VoIP calls over to POTS lines and vice-versa. What is the use of this? I have a VoIP device in Vancouver, Canada and a second device at a family members house in Auckland, New Zealand - this device in Auckland has a Vancouver number on it and is also connected to the POTS system and therefore has an Auckland phone number associated with it. From my device in Vancouver I can call the device in Auckland over the Internet, then call out on the Auckland land-line - so I can get Auckland dial-tone from Vancouver, for free! In Auckland they can pick up the phone and dial almost anywhere in Canada for free. There is also an app for both iPhone's and Android phones that allow you to call an Obihai device and use it to call out - for example my brother in New Zealand installs it on his iPhone and I add him to my trusted network. When he connects his iPhone to the Internet via WiFi he can call my Obihai device and use it to call me on my cell phone
Note: I am NOT employed or have any affiliation with the companies or products mentioned in this Instructable, I do not get any financial or other compensation from them either - I am just a happy customer who can call family on the other side of the world for free and have them call me for free.
Step 1: Pro's and Con's
As the saying goes there is no such thing as a free lunch. There are pro's and con's associated with using VoIP
- Real phone number from 1 of 4 provinces
- Can use a "soft phone" or regular phone
- Call most Canadian cities for free
- Bridge between VoIP and POTS
- Take your phone number with you when you travel
- No 911 service or service not as reliable as POTS
- Small initial cost outlay for VoIP device and "config file" now called a "VoIP Unlock Key"
- It can be technical to setup
- Needs Internet
- If Internet drops so does the phone.
Step 2: Sign Up for a Phone Number.
Note: a "soft phone" is a software application you install onto a PC to give you phone calls via the PC microphone and sound card.
I use a service called FreePhoneLine.ca
(Again I do not work for them or get any compensation financial or otherwise from them).
To setup an account with them you will need to provide your name, address (including postal code, street address, province etc), DOB, gender, email address, a valid phone number like your cellular number or existing land line number and agree to their terms and conditions (a lot of info on 911, 1-900, 411 etc etc). If you aren't happy giving this information out then don't bother registering! If you are OK with this then lets proceed.
Register on the site.
Initially you will need to provide an email address and a valid phone number (like your cellular number).
You will get a confirmation email needed to activate your account.
Once activated login to the site and click on the "register" button - here you will have to provide the info listed above.
Continue - you will need to agree to their terms and conditions.
Once you agree to the terms and conditions the next step they require is to confirm your existing phone number (this is to probably confirm you are Canadian but I am not 100% sure). They will call the number you provided and give you a 3 digit confirmation code you need to enter into a box and confirm.
Now you get to pick the area code and number. The Provinces you can get a number from are: BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Once you pick a province you get a choice of cities. You can pick a number from any of the listed provinces/cities. If for example you are in Vancouver and have family in Toronto you can pick a Toronto number and family in Toronto will be able to call you for free. If you don't like the first number picked for you you can get a couple more tries.
Once you have got a phone number you can download either a Windows or Mac version of the software.
Install the software, launch it and login with the same login/password you used to register on the website.
Congratulations you have a free working phone number - no credit card needed.
To make long distance calls to places out of their free calling zone you can buy credits from your account on the freephoneline.ca website.
Step 3: Using an ATA/VoIP Device
I used this setup for a couple of months but wanted to use a regular cordless phone so I didn't have to sit at my PC to make or receive calls. To do this I purchased an ATA/VoIP device and also a "config file" from freephoneline.ca - the "config file" was a one-time $50.00 fee. As of Nov 2017 this is called a "VoIP Unlock Key" and is $79.95
The VoIP Unlock Key is a login & password for their SIP system along with information on what servers etc to use.
Comments and questions about this Instructable are welcome.