Fongo is an interesting VoIP service – it offers you free calling with other users of the service, free calling to any phone number (not just VoIP) in many cities in Canada, rather cheap international rates, mobile service, and even a home-based service along with the equipment. But there is something about the it that is really restrictive – you can register for it and use it only if you are a Canadian resident.
- Unlimited free calls to any phone to cities around Canada.
- Home-based service with a phone adapter (ATA).
- Mobile service, with apps for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices.
- Free Canadian phone number offered, with possibility to keep your existing number.
- Paid 911 service available.
- Cheap VoIP-rate international calls.
- Service not available to anyone except people living in Canada.
- Free calls to only a list of cities in Canada, and not the whole country.
Fongo is a VoIP service that gives you possibility of making cheap and free calls, like all VoIP services do. Fongo is particularly interesting in that it offers extended services, and free calls to mobile and landline numbers. But this is available only to people in Canada.
I tried to register for the service after downloading the app on my computer. I couldn’t because I don’t live in Canada. In the combo box where you choose your country, you see a list of all countries (and you know what this suggests), but you don’t get through if you choose anything but Canada, not even neighboring USA. I contacted support at Fongo about this and they replied, “In order to register you must have a valid address in Canada and choose an area from Canada to assign a telephone number. If you choose a different country on the signup, it won’t complete the signup process.” In another correspondence with support, I have been told by one member of the support team that, “I am currently not aware of plans to expand the service outside of Canada.” So, your decision to read on here will be most probably dependent on whether you are Canadian or not.
This being said, I need to say that Fongo does stand up to be a service worth considering. In fact, it has another commercial wing, offering more or less the same service called Dell Voice. Actually, the app you get to download and use with the service is from Dell Voice.
Before you register, you are asked to download the app and install it, after choosing the type of app you want to use. When you start the app for the first time, you need to register (since you cannot log in without credentials). It is only then that you get to register for the service. I find this somewhat wrongly planned, because users should know well before downloading and installing any app if they are not entitled to be registered and use it. It seems like a trap – you are forced to download, install, start registering (with a misleading long list of countries), then only to find out that you cannot be registered! Not to mention that registration is done in two steps, the first including the collection of your email address for verification, and the second verifying your exact address in Canada.
You can use the service on your PC, running Windows. No app yet for Mac or Linux. You can also use it on your iPhone, BlackBerry devices and Android smartphones. Speaking of mobility, you can use your app on your mobile device using Wi-Fi, 3G and even 4G. Wi-Fi is great or home and office use, but when you need to be really on the move, you need to consider the cost of 3G and 4G data plans. Fongo claims to use only 1 MB of data per minute of talk, which is quite low. That gives you around 1000 calling minutes if you have a 1G plan per month.
You can make free calls to all other people using Fongo, as is the case with most VoIP services. Free calls are also allowed to any of the listed cities in Canada. This part is what I find most interesting in the service. So, if you are a Canadian and happen to make frequent calls to the listed destinations, you can have a full phone service without spending anything on calls.
Fongo also offers a residential VoIP service where you can use your traditional phone to make free calls. They send you a phone adapter for a one-time cost of $59. Then you can use it to make free unlimited calls to the listed cities. It works a bit like to no-monthly-bill companies like Ooma and MagicJack. You can also take your phone adapter with you on travel, even abroad and use it to make Fongo calls. The international rates are typical for VoIP services, with rates starting at 2 cents per minute for the most prominent destinations. But for some less-techie destinations, it starts getting costly. Fongo does not require you to get into a contract; you use the service as long as you have credit.
Once you register for the service, you get a free Canada-based phone number. You can also choose to keep your existing number by paying a fee. They are quite finicky about verifying your address and stuff, for the purpose of 911. Yes, unlike other VoIP services, Fongo offers 911 service against a monthly fee.
Among the other features you get with the service are: visual voicemail, caller ID, follow me, call waiting, background call notification, and rate information.