For years we felt we needed a home phone. We still feel that way, albeit less and less each year. However a few years ago there was a breaking point. I couldn’t stomach spending $30 per month for a home phone service I barely used. I knew there was a better way. I needed a lower cost but reliable alternative. Enter Canadian-based Fongo.
What is Fongo?
Fongo uses Voice-Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) to place and receive your home phone calls. You can also use your cell phone, using your existing data plan or WiFi connection, to utilize up to 1000 calling minutes per month – that’s 16 hours of talk time per month for every month you have the service.
Do you have a tablet? If so, you can use it over your home WiFi network and never have a home phone bill again.
Why did we choose Fongo Home Phone?
All details are current at the time of this post:
- You can transfer your existing home phone to Fongo (from Rogers, from Bell) for a small one-time fee. (We did this previously.)
- Fongo Home Phone comes with free voicemail to email (when you miss a call), free caller ID, free call waiting and more (We used this service.)
- You can call almost any major city in Canada, free. They have free “calling cities”.
- You can call worldwide to international cities for stupid low rates like $0.02 per minute.
- There is no complex set-up. There is no technician involved. All you need is a high speed internet connection, your current home phone, and the Fongo VOIP adapter. Plug and play in minutes.
- There is also portable convenience. Take Fongo Home Phone with you to your vacation home and keep making free calls as if you’re still local!
- You get free online support from Fongo courtesy of their support page.
- There’s no contract.
- You can listen to your voicemail online anytime.
- You can view your call log online anytime.
- No cost or fees associated with maintaining a ‘dryloop’.
Image above courtesy of Fongo.
Want to use Fongo without the home phone option? Go for it!
- Using WiFi, you can call another Fongo customer anywhere in the world for free. When you’re connected on a call, Fongo uses 0.5MB of data per calling minute so even a paid-for 500MB data-plan gives you approximately 1000 calling minutes per month.
- You can get a free Fongo mobile number using the Fongo app.
- Do you have a tablet? That’s your new free home or anywhere phone.
The home phone cost?
4.95 per month + taxes. No contract. No cancellation fees.
I started writing about Fongo Home Phone on my site (no affiliation) back in June, 2014. Almost three years later, here is the approximate cost of using this service.
- Adapter = $59
- Shipping = $15
- Number transfer = $20
- First month service fee + deposit = $4.95 (x2)
- Taxes = $14
Out of the box cost ($118) plus monthly service costs to date ($168) = $286 total operational costs.
Why Fongo? In closing, it works and works very well.
Other than rebooting the adapter a few times since owning the equipment, Fongo Home Phone has worked very well to date and I was a happy customer with this service. You can’t beat the quality and price.
Note #1: As of May 2019 – I no longer use Fongo Home Phone because we moved into a condo and I have transferred to using my cell phone exclusively including the Fongo Mobile App from time-to-time.
BIG Note #2: Please quote this blog and/or my name associated with it (Mark Seed) in your referral. If you refer someone to Fongo home phone you will receive 1 month of home phone service for free ($4.95 value). Within a few business days your account will be credited with 1 month of free home phone service. There is no limit to how many free months you can receive from referrals… Refer 12 people, get a whole year of free home phone service!
Save, invest, prosper!
We own three different phone numbers (one for each of my roommates) but only one phone line. We have a feature called Smart-Ring (or Distinctive Ring) which causes the phone to ring differently depending on what number the caller dialled. Only one person can be on the phone at any given time, but this prevents someone else from having to pick up a call that is not intended for them. My question is whether this feature (and all three numbers) can be ported to Fongo. The reason we got three numbers to begin with was to avoid having to pay $90 for the phone bill ($30 per line x 3). This way, we are paying $40 ($30 for the line, plus $5 each for the 2 extra numbers).
Double-check with them but I believe any phone number can be ported to Fongo. I know for sure I was able to port home old (1) one number to them and it’s worked fine ever since!
Good luck Joe!
Fongo home works *really* well.
Id advise investment in a UPS for your router and Fongo box so you don’t lose service in the event of a power outage.
They don’t use a ton of power so a 100$ UPS should give you several hours of protection.
10/10 so far.
Fongo mobile soft phone works a bit less well but some of thats because not all wireless hotspots support SIP/VOIP.
If you can find a decent connection it does actually work OK.
I also have Fongo SMS for like 8$ every 6 months. This also works well but I text very rarely so value isless obvious.
Big fan of Fongo Home Phone! Thanks Carlo.
Nice to know! Will explore more, thanks!
I have shaw home phone and it works great, only reason I still have it is because I use it often enough to justify the $15/month cost. Over time though I think all landlines will slowly disappear
As long as you are paying for a service and use it, and see value in it, all good!
After reading this entry, I was encouraged to try to sign up with Fongo as my home phone. I rarely use the home phone and never answer it as there are so many unwanted calls.
But…..similar to a few years back, I cannot get a local number assigned to me. As I only want the phone for calls from medical offices and from my kids once in awhile, I want a local number.
Sigh, I will have to stay with Telus, who keeps sneakily increasing prices of their services. I noticed on this bill, in tiny letters, that the $5 bundle discount for services is being decreased to $3.
Not sure I know what you mean Barbara. Are you in a city not on Fongo’s list?
If so, you should be able to keep your existing local number with your current provider (Telus) – Fongo will assume that local number for you.
Yes I am in a city on their list. However, when you go to sign up they ask you where you want your phone number to be located and only the Vancouver area is offered to choose from. I do not want to keep my existing number.
I have sent them a query in case they offer different area codes for BC, I hope they answer. I put you down as my referral.
Thanks for letting me know, it will be interesting if they can accommodate. Keep me posted!
I heard back from them this mornimg. This is what they wrote:
“Dear Fongo Customer,
We’re unable to provide service to this area.
Parlez en toute liberté! / Talk Freely!
Team Fongo Support”
Ah crap. Very sorry to hear.
What about Ooma?
I had looked at Ooma, it seemed more complicated and higher priced. But seeing as I cannot get Fongo or MagicJack I looked at them again. You have to give them your email address to look at some of their web pages, kinda annoying. Anyhow, I can get a local number with them. I am not good on the technical stuff, but think it may work for us. Our modem and router are in the basement, so not really where I would want the phone/message machine located. But think I will give it a try.
That sounds promising. No doubt there are some “how to” videos for Ooma and set-up. Maybe worth a try to save $25 per month. If it was just saving a few bucks per month, likely not worth it but $25 or month isn’t bad.
So I bought a Ooma and have set it up. The cost I paid was $109 plus tax. Have done a couple of test calls and hubby did a long distance call to his brother (St. Patrick’s Day….) and it worked great. I am not bothering to port my phone number, hoping that some of the “toll free serv” calls will be lessened, at least for awhile.
A couple of years ago I tracked our expenses for the year and was not happy with the total for home phone, tv, and internet (all bundled). I cut the tv back to basic service (when hubby came home from away he promptly added his sports package back) and took the internet down to the lowest level once my gaming son moved out. Now with the home phone gone it should be down to $120 a month.
Thanks Mark for your reminder of this type of service and the savings it offers.
Most welcome. Glad Ooma is off to a good start for you.
(I got a laugh about sports package. It’s the ONLY reason we have cable still – so I can watch live sports. Otherwise, it would be long gone).
Regarding sports, is there any over the air opioins? i.e. bunny ears.
There are Rob. Lots of folks have them here but I’ve got more traditional cable to see live sports on multiple channels.
Maybe this would work for you. G/L
Thanks. But the magicjack area code list is the same as Fongos, pretty restrictive.
Fongo sounds like a great choice.
I think I’ve mentioned before here I have been using magicjack for nearly 6 years now.
They offer customer support and all the features you mention above as well as free calls to the US/Puerto Rico/US Virgin islands, which works well for us with family in the US regularly. I recently added their FREE app for my cell phone which adds my magic “home line” # to my cell phone (wifi needed). This allows me to also make and accept FREE “home line” calls in Canada and US on cell. So far this works well. International calls to other magic customers are FREE and non magic customers are at relatively low rates.
I’ll soon be renewing at the 5 yr @ $33/yr deal.
Approx costs in CDN $
1st yr $52
Next 5 yrs each $ $33 = approx $2.70/mth
How cheap is that eh? $3 per month for a home phone! Great work RBull.
Can you provide advice magicjack vs Fongo? Magicjack call blocking feature is defunct i.e. calls get through for some reason.
I can’t speak to a good comparison navr since I have never owned Magicjack but I can say the Fongo product was very good while I had it – hence the post.
A great old post resurrected! I got the notification about a post, so might as well comment:
My Ooma home phone has been fantastic, no complaints whatsoever. Four years now. I got a new number on purpose and it has almost completely curtailed spam phone calls. I only give out the number for medical people and family and for the odd trades that we are wanting quotes from. Sometimes it is 5 days or more between the phone ringing.
Long distance in Canada is free and the rates for overseas and the USA are almost nothing, like 1-2 cents a minute. I remember when it cost $1 a minute (on the cheaper sunday rate) to call overseas.
So I have been very pleased and last summer I cut the rest of Telus’s services (tv and internet). Haven’t missed them a bit–especially their screwing around with your contracted bill–you can stream most everything you want. Today my hubby bought one week access to a sports network (FA cup, his team won for the first time). We have Tek Savvy unlimited internet. They use Telus lines, but much cheaper.
Great stuff. I’ve Ooma is good and if you’re doing overseas calls, etc. a good system. We just have our cell phones now for phones and that seems to be working well for us. No more home phone. We used to have Fongo for years for our single home security system but we left that house almost 2 years ago now.
I need cable TV for my love of golf and other live sports. It’s a small luxury I’m still willing to pay for – for now!
I cut the cord at the same time I stopped my phone service seven years ago and that was difficult. I’m with TekSavy as well and in order to make it cheaper I downgraded the plan one month with out telling my wife or the kids and received no complains. After a couple of months I didn’t again and nobody complained, my third attempt only lasted a couple of weeks as everything collapsed as the speed was not enough for our necesities and I had to roll back to a faster plan. At the end of the exercise I ended up saving 12 dollars a month 🙂
TekSavvy is good. I might try them up internet renewal. I have a decent deal with Rogers though now and I like the fact if something is wrong with Rogers, they will fix the line for free. They have had to do so in our area now and them. TekSavvy cannot because it’s not their line.
I had a good laugh about “without telling my wife or kids”…changing services and they didn’t notice until you went too far 😉
I went the MagicJack route 4 years ago – my initial cost ~$70(?) CAD which gave me the device and 1 year service + $10 USD/yr for a CDN number – after the year service they offered a great deal – $75 USD for 5 years of service (one time) – haven’t looked back. Service is the same as for Fongo except the free calling area is North America – my wife talks with girlfriend in California a lot :).
I’ve become totally enamoured with NO long distance charges. Also use their app on the cell phone (with wifi) for calling when I’m in roaming territory (ie. US) – all in all works great.
Also dumped Bell for TekSavvy as an ISP – same Bell network at much lower cost – also TekSavvy’s customer service is what all customer service should be – eg. I had switched out modems (upgraded) – they called me to make sure everything was working ok (it was) – when was the last any of big boys were proactive in such a fashion?
Mark, depending on what you watch on cable you might want to look a streaming solution (Android box) for TV rather than those cable charges – my box cost $125 one time years ago – for live stuff I have an antenna (yeah they still exist) which pulls in ~12 channels – (Toronto area) including the Buffalo stations – direct Superbowl US ads – yes!
I am happy to read about these money saving phone option as I have been debating what to do with by Bell home phone service, which I rarely use. My concern regarding using my tablet or cell phone as my primary phone is the need to carry them with me from room to room so I can hear and answer a call quickly, before it goes to voicemail. (Presently, I have 5 plug-into-telco-jacks phones throughout the 3 levels of my house.) Are there any solution regarding this? I do want to get rid of my telco land line and save over $30 per month.
BTW, about 3 years ago, I got rid of cable TV. I bought an indoor antenna. I don’t get tons of channels, but that’s okay because I don’t watch much TV.
Your concern is legit Helen since you I can appreciate you don’t want to port your tablet everywhere to avoid running around your place. I like Fongo Home Phone (plug and play) and Ooma is good too. Either one will save you close to $25 per month going forward. I would check both out.
We watch a great deal of TV and I love my live sports so we have cable and internet TV in our house. Yes, cable costs us $80 per month but you know what, I feel it’s worth it. We cut back in other ways. At the end of the day as long as what you spend provides you value that’s money well spent. You gotta live…
Besides, my TFSA and RRSP are maxed out!
Being a neophyte with any kind of electronics technology, what happens when the power goes out?
Well, since these alternatives require internet, if the power goes out then your modem will be affected. That’s really the only reason to have a landline these days, IMO. Since most of us also have a cell phone, it’s less of an issue than it once was.
True Vito but as you point out, we have cell phones for emergencies as well. We also have a generator for our house in case the power goes out for an extended period.
We’ve had power outages lasting up to two days so I don’t think I’d be comfortable not having a landline for that length of time. With the medical issues we have in the family not having communications is NOT an option. I’ve been wembling on getting some back up power generators but of course keep putting it off.
You have to do what is best for you and family; safety is important Lloyd.
We felt we needed it for outages while maintaining our sump pumps in the spring. You never know. It came in handy a couple of times over the 8.5 years we lived there.
No power, no internet, no VOIP. Then again, we have cell phones as a backup.
A couple of years ago on the ice storm in the GTA I was with out power five days. No power, no internet, only my cell phone until the cell phone towers died maybe a day after the blackout started which left me with out cell phone service. As soon as I realized the power was gone I turned my wife’s and my cell phone off and started turning it on every couple of hours to see it the signal was back. At that point I realized that having a cell phone was useless in that type of emergency, I realized also that my emergency kit didn’t take my that far, I also realized that the fireplace needs periodic maintenance and last but not least that I always some type of cash reserve in my house which I have carried from that day onwards.
True, without power you/we are sunk. We have a generator at our house. It runs on natural gas so it’s going to work unless they cut off all gas lines in a major emergency. We have cell phones and yes, they won’t work if the towers don’t work.
I haven’t looked at our “power is out” emergency kit for a while but I probably should. Who knows if we need a shelter with Trump in power. Maybe it will provide life for a few days? 😉
I use freephoneline.ca. It’s the same company as Fongo, and the service is exactly the same. There are only a couple of differences:
1) there is no technical support (not a problem really, there’s specific forums out there to help people out)
2) if you buy their adapter, it does not come configured. Again, there’s lots of info to help with this. If you go with Fongo, it’s pretty much plug-n-play. I chose to buy a different adapter that has additional features.
3) there is a one-time charge for a key to unlock, ie, get on the system. It was about $70 when I bought it last year. However, there are no monthy charges!
In all, I paid $25 to transfer my phone number, $70 for the key, and $70 for an Obihai adapter. All my calls within Canada have been free so far (although Fongo/freephoneline doesn’t cover all parts of Canada for free, the coverage is pretty good). International calls are really cheap.
I came from Nettalk, which has a similar concept to MagicJack. It was a complete nightmare.
I looked into voip.ms very closely, but chose to try a Canadian company. Glad I did….
Yes, freephoneline.ca is Fongo essentially without a monthly fee. The $4.95 per month really pays for Fongo support. Still, for $5 per month? A good deal. If folks are sweating over paying $5 per month for a service there are bigger (money) issues.
I cancelled mine seven years ago and never looked back. As the kids grow and stay home by them selves we have been debating what do to but I think a Fongo app on their phone is the solution.I really think we can get away at home with only my wife’s phone. Do you know the monthly usage on the home phone?
Geez, seven years ago is impressive. Fongo app is good. I don’t use it actively since I have a good cell phone plan that covers Canada. I recall it’s unlimited home phone usage really but I don’t use it that often Nelson – maybe a hour here and there a month.
Have used the free app but it is getting unreliable. Once a week I call my own number leave a message and then maybe one or two hours later the message shows up on my iPad Fongo app, so a bit useless to rely on. Have tested it now for weeks and always the same, only a few people have the number as I hate for them to use it and I do not get their message. Nothing wrong with my equipment if I may add. Anyhow (I even paid an extra $10 to get text capabilities) oh well.
Odd. I haven’t heard of that Kathy…sorry to hear. I’m a big fan of their home phone. Very few issues. Have you tried to contact them for support?
Ooma at $4.18/mo for 5 years and very happy with product & service.
Well done 🙂
I used to use it, but everyone complained that it didn’t come through clearly. And I’m sure it’s not due to my internet service (200+ mb/s).
Odd. I haven’t had an issue Matthew. Could be your adapter?
So , who do you use for the internet hi speed connection for your VOIP?
Rogers here. I need to negotiate with them again soon…every spring is my ritual!
I have been using OOMA and am quite happy. I used Fongo free app on my cell but had lots of issues.
Really? Surprised. I find their app good but I haven’t used it very frequently mind you. I’ve heard Ooma is good as well.