Cell Phone Alternative

I’ve decided that having a cell phone and an internet stick is redundant since I just about never make any calls and receiving some is insanely expensive. I’ve let my cell phone number lapse and have been shopping for alternatives. Learning that Google lets you call out at no charge got me thinking. If my computer can call out to telephones, couldn’t telephones call my computer?

Yup. And, to my surprise, several companies offer the service. Skype offers the best option, providing you with a landline number and voicemail for $6/month. The catch is that because of Canada’s stupid telecommunications laws, Skype can’t provide  you with a Canadian number. Having people, especially potential employers, call a US number to reach me is out of the question!

Followed a lot of research, as is par for the course when trying to get around Canada’s stupid telecommunications laws. I found three services which would offer me a Canadian number and Skype compatibility.

The first, www.ring2skype.com, is free, but flaky, and not compatible with Skype Voicemail. I made several calls via Google and only half would go through.

The second, www.onekingtelecom.com, sounded great, offering both the number and voicemail for $10/month, but there was almost no information on it, and what was there made the company seem awfully sketchy.

The third, www.virtufon.com, seems almost perfect for my needs. It is $4.95 per month for the phone number, with a $4.95 one time set up fee. It has a large selection of local Canadian numbers, not just from the big cities. However, there are no Yukon numbers. I decided to go with a 778 Vancouver number. This service needs to be paired with Skype voicemail, which is $2/month. So, the total per month is $6.95, much cheaper than the $20 worth of minutes I was buying and throwing away every month!

If my computer is on and Skype is open, Skype will ring when I get a call. Otherwise, my calls go to voicemail. Skype even emails me to let me know I have a voicemail. I like that I was able to create my own voicemail message. My favourite test was to call my iPod Touch; with a better microphone I have a very cheap iPhone!

The only caveat is that the service can’t be used to make emergency calls to 911, which isn’t a big deal most of the time for me since I’m rarely in a 911 call zone.

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23 Comments

  • It is my understanding that you can call 911. It is not “911 compatible” because the 911 operator cannot see your address or location displayed on her screen. You have to tell her where you are. I may be wrong but that is my understanding.

  • Hi Rae,
    An interesting arrangement you discovered for internet and phone. I believe, in the states, in order to have a USB modem for internet, like you have, you also have to have cell phone service. Too bad because, like you, I rarely use the phone. It sounds like an inexpensive alternative. Hope things are working out as you planned.
    –Pleinguy
    Wannabe Full-timer

  • Croft, you may be correct.

    Pleinguy, I don’t think you need to have cell service in addition to the USB modem, but don’t quote me on that. If Canada lets me have the USB modem on its own, then surely the States must do the same. We’re so backwards here, after all.

  • Interesting that we just purchased a Magic Jack yesterday. We picked ours up at London Drugs for $49.95 on sale.
    The Magic Jack is a USB device that looks slightly larger than a flash drive and has a regular phone jack at the opposite end of the USB plug. When you install it, it will take about 3 minutes to load some software and then with the first year’s annual subscription of $20 included in the purchase price you are good to go. With any regular landline phone you can call anywhere in North America for free. International calls are available for an extra fee.
    The best part of this device is that you CAN register a Canadian area code of your choice when you sign up…there is an extra charge of $10 for a Canadian number but for a total of $30 a year….who’s complaining!? Having a local area code allows our family and friends to call us anywhere we are as if it was a local call for them.
    This is going to start sounding too good to be true, but you receive a dedicated number, call display, personalizable voice mail and call forwarding from what we have seen up to now.
    The sound quality is like a regular phone, because well…you are on a regular phone….but you do need to have a broadband connection.
    So far we are very pleased with it….can you tell!?

  • We used MagicJack at the campground this summer for making calls in North America. It seemed to work pretty well, but I’ve heard mixed reviews about it. Get back to me in a few months and we’ll compare notes. 🙂

  • Rae,

    “I don’t think you need to have cell service in addition to the USB modem, but don’t quote me on that. If Canada lets me have the USB modem on its own, then surely the States must do the same.”

    You are correct, this is being sent to you via a Verizon Air Card (USB modem) with no cell service. I use TracFone for cell calls but treat it like a phone booth because they are so rare now.

  • Great info, something I too have been considering. I wanted an iphone but refuse to pay such a high monthly fee.

  • If I made more than one call every six months, I’d have no problem justifying getting an iPhone. 😀

  • http://www.onekingtelecom.com has better quality and service then virtufon and ring2skype, they are also the authorized resellers, as they have a valid reseller id in skype for biz control panel. when i tried the virtufon they completely sucks.

    chris.

  • While doing my research, I could not find a single positive review for onekingtelecom, and their website was very sketchy. Meanwhile, four months in, Virtufon has been perfect.

  • I live in Saskatchewan where we don’t have daylight saving time. Is that a problem in getting a Magic Jack number or registering with virtufon.com? In going through the listings of available area code numbers Saskatchewan is never listed.

  • I doubt that the daylight saving thing will be an issue, but I don’t know if service will work in Saskatchewan or not. That province appears to a communications black hole.

  • while searching i found virtufon and onekingtelecom, virtufonis a not a registered company, in canada, i would not trust my business number or even a personal one. onekingtelecom is a registered ontario company, we have their service for 2 months now, i like the free forwarding and voicemail to email featuer, there is even a mini ivr called vmx locator.

  • I don’t like the onekingtelecom website; it looks so unprofessional. I’ve been with Virufone for ages now and love it.

  • Hi Rae, thanks for your suggestions. I will try virtufon based on your recommendation. If you google “review virtufon”, you will see lots of blog postings recommending onekingtelecom, all with the same grammatical errors (such as “10$”, which also appear on their website). Most importantly, the site info is sketchy and incomplete — hardly a company you want to trust your credit card number and business calls to. Good for you in trusting your instincts, and thanks again for the great information.

  • Virtufon has been working great for me for a year!

  • rae, whats your number with them, i like to call and see if it works , also there is no information of porting numbers on their website, what if i need to port out my number in few months or port in my cell number, onekingtelecom supports porting of Canadian numbers, so definitely they are not scam. and

  • Robert, I have let my number with them lapse as I have not needed it for some time. I don’t think that you can port a number with them.

  • There are a lot of people talking about virtual numbers out there on the net. I finally decided to try Virtufon to use in lieu of a Skypein number. The cost in Canada is 5.95 a month. I’ve had it for two months and so far so good. It seems to work flawlessly with no problems. Not that many people call me, so I will update my opinion as time goes by. I only use it to forward my cell Phone to. That way if someone calls my cell it goes to Skype. When I walk away from the computer I unforward and my calls come with me.

  • OneKingTelecom is a scam. Tony Garcy is a dishonest person, Rae your assessment of the site as shady is spot on. The site engages in false advertising. You only find out that the service they claimed in the advertising and checkout was not offered. Then you are hit with an extra monthy charge if you want the addition service which the site clearly states is included. They you are told to get that you need to pay forgone year upfront. It also took several days to activate. When it was activated and I was told I had to pay extra I quickly canceled. Tony Garcy admitted that the advertising is misleading but refused to provide a full refund even though the service was never full activated. Thieves!

    On a positive note I have found VirtuFon and they are amazing. They are $5 a month cheaper and they deliver the service as advertised. I just hope others don’t have to go through the same thing.

    I suspect the people on here speaking positively about OneKingTelecom is actually Tony Garcia (not sure if that is his real name). If you do a quick search on the website you will find mainly complaints!

    Buyer beware!

  • I have used VirtuFon forwarded to my skype account with voicmail for a year and am very pleased with it. I am a snowbird and travel between Canada and US each year. Two items have become issues:

    1) As I only have Skype and VirtuFon so caller ID ing myself on outgoing calls is not possible I believe. I am id’d as unknown caller and some folks din’t pick up calls that are not id’ed.

    2) I can instant message out with my Skype but can’t get instant messages to come in. If I could I could set up caller id supported by Skype but it need a verification process that needs test support so a verification text can be received.

    Can someone please give me a way to get incoming texts and caller id working with my Skype – VirtuFon combination?

  • Thanks to rea for the info on virtufon. I’m going to try them with my skype on my mac in Canada.

  • Thanks Rea! the information and test you posted is very useful for me, I appreciate and I will give a try to VirtuFon!

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