Dell Voice in partnership with Fongo Inc. Canada is now providing one of the first free Canada-wide long distance VoIP phone calling services. While their marketing strategy is focused on targeting mobile VoIP users on the Android, IPhone, and Windows laptop PC's, it's not widely obvious that the service is also available to the BYOD DIY do-it-yourself SIP VoIP crowd. This is where my interest is.
I suppose we could classify Dell Voice and Fongo as a "Freemium" service. The basic widely marketed "Free" features is what gets the most attention and is what gets the service off the ground and builds the initial subscriber base. And, if you want to expand beyond the basic free features, you then can take advantage of the advanced features for a "Premium". Thus, the term freemium.
If you are interested in BYOD (bring your own device) and DIY (do it yourself) to access these features of the Dell Voice - Fongo service, then you will have to pay a one-time premium of $50 to obtain a personalized password that enables you to log into the Fongo VoIP servers with your own BYOD Softphone, ATA (analog telephone adapter), or IP-Phone. They call this feature the "VoIP Unlock Key".
UPDATE:Dell Voice and Fongo no longer sell the VoIP Unlock Key. However, you can get all the same calling features and the Unlock Key from their sister company: FreePhoneLine.ca
I have already done some preliminary testing of the Dell Voice PC Desktop App and was not very impressed with the initial results. But, this app is software pre-configured and locked to only work with Dell Voice, which most pre-branded softphones do (only work with their supplied service). However, just because my initial tests of their service with the Desktop App were not encouraging, I had a gut feeling that if I were to be able to directly connect by own VoIP UA's (User Agents) to the Fongo VoIP proxy servers, I would get much better results..... which, I did!
Gambling on my gut feeling meant that I had to give Dell Voice $50 just to see if my VoIP devices worked better than theirs. (I don't easily part with $50, especially on unknown VoIP services). I guess I thought it was worth the gamble for the following reasons:
- I already had a Dell Voice free local phone number to receive incoming calls.
- Most incoming and outgoing calls across Canada will be free from my own VoIP devices. (Prepaid minutes are required to call outside the Canada free zones - a premium service.)
- Their service includes voice-mail, call forwarding, and 911 emergency calling for free.
- I use Google Voice and Skype, but they don't provide free phone numbers in Canada. Google Voice and Skype also don't allow SIP BYOD DIY devices to connect to their services.
- Dell Voice Fongo service is industry standard SIP based VoIP compatible and should work with most any SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) enabled user-configurable unlocked VoIP device (as far as I know).
I have already completed some initial testing of Dell Voice BYOD service after purchasing the VoIP Unlock Key. My initial tests are very encouraging.
I just hope the $50 unlock key is truly only a "one-time-fee", and that they don't turn around at some point in the future and start requiring "subscriptions" on an annual or monthly basis. If they do.... I'm out of here... as I do have plenty of other BYOD options that I already use.
My next blog article will cover how to configure my favorite, and top-pick, user-configurable free VoIP softphone for PC desktops and laptops. It's the 3CXPhone Softphone by 3CX Corp. In a past blog article, I explained how to configure the 3CXPhone with CallCentric. Next, I will explain how to configure it to work with the Dell Voice Fongo service.
I'm also testing Dell Voice on my Cisco SPA504G desktop IP-Phone with good results. I hope to cover this in another upcoming article, too.
I also plan to test Dell Voice on my Cisco Linksys SPA2102-NA and the PAP2T-NA. I'll keep you informed in future posts.