Sunday, 15 July 2012

Challenges of Small Town VoIP

While moving from the big city to a small city, I was surprised at the challenges of getting a VoIP phone number in any of the smaller populous regions.

When living in a big city, getting set up for DIY VoIP is a fairly straight forward process:

  • Learn some basics of VoIP.
  • Make sure you have reliable high-speed Internet service.
  • Buy a VoIP adapter (ATA), or IP-Phone.
  • Learn to configure your ATA/IP-Phone.
  • Sign-up with a reputable low-cost DIY VoIP provider.
  • Purchase a phone number (DID) for your local calling area.
  • Enjoy the low-cost phone service that VoIP has to offer.

Over the past 10 years, I've moved a few times within Calgary, AB, Canada.  Being a big city of over one million people, having high-speed Internet and obtaining a local Calgary DID phone number from any of the various North American VoIP providers (and, I've used a few over the years), has never been a problem. 

However, I've recently made a long distance move from Calgary to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada.  I had no idea of how difficult it would be to obtain a local VoIP DID phone number for the small city area I am now living near 
(population:  ~ 40,000).

None of my favorite VoIP services can be bothered providing DID service for the smaller cities and towns in Canada.

After doing an extensive search, I have found one Canadian VoIP provider who was willing to work with  the local phone exchanges to provide DID phone numbers areas of the Okanagan Valley, BC where the larger VoIP providers can't be bothered with.  On the down side, they want to charge premium prices to serve these smaller areas.  I suppose that is fair, but my whole premise of using VoIP in the first place is to save money on phone services.  So, for now, I'm on the fence of what to do about obtaining a local DID phone number.

In the mean time, I do have a toll-free VoIP DID that I give out to people who don't want to incur long distance charges for calling to my Calgary phone number (which I still maintain).

My hope is that one day it will be as easy to obtain DID phone numbers in the small towns and cities as it is in the larger ones.

UPDATE:  (18 July, 2012)
Enough of riding on the fence.  Two days ago, I decided to go ahead and obtain my local Vernon, BC DID phone number through that small Canadian VoIP provider I mentioned in the above paragraphs.

Not that I really had a choice of providers.  In fact,
Spout Communications, based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada is the only VoIP provider who is willing to provide VoIP DID's for the Okanagan B.C. area (besides Kelowna), that I know of.  While, they are charging me a little bit more than my other VoIP providers typically charge (if... they did carry Okanagan area DID's), $4.99/month really isn't too bad for a premium Tier-1 quality DID line.  And, they are able to forward my incoming calls to my other VoIP provider's iNum number at no extra charge (that is what sealed the deal).

I would like to note that Spout Communications has expanded their DID coverage area in the Okanagan Valley area of British Columbia to include Vernon, Winfield, Rutland, Peachland, Kelowna, Lakeview Heights, and West Bank.