Canada is a great country 🇨🇦 Except for phone and data plans. Blame it on the vastness of the land if you will, it still sucks.
So I was pretty excited by the promise of Fongo: a dedicated Canadian Phone number for a fraction of the price. The service is based on VOIP, so you only need to pay for the data you’re using to make phone calls + an optional 10$ every 6 months for unlimited Canada-wide texting. Sounds like a direct answer to my prayers!
And so, I’ve been using a Fongo number as my only phone number for just over 2 years. Do I recommend Fongo after that experience? Maybe.
Fongo does work and it is cheaper than any phone plan a classic carrier will ever give you. But it’s also less reliable.
## Numbers first 💰
I was paying around 45$/month for more call minutes than I ever could dream of busting and 1GB of data.
I took a data-only plan of 3GB/month for 15$/month. Add 1.66$/month for my unlimited texting with Fongo and you get pretty good deal of 16.66$/month.
45*24 = 1080$ 16.66*24 ≃ 400$
Over 2 years, it’s safe to assume I saved at least 600$ thanks to Fongo. So far, so good.
The amazing data-only plan I was on with Fido no longer exists… unless you have a phone plan with them. (?!) Most big telecom companies I looked up have similar policies. You might be able to get a data-only plan if you already have a phone plan with them, then cancel the phone plan and keep the data-only plan.
Personally, I’ve switched to Fizz and get 1GB/month for 16$/month. Good enough.
## The quality of the service
To put it simply, Fongo is OK.
For calls, it usually works just fine, but I often had people telling me they had a hard time understanding my voice. Usually, I solved the problem by disabling WiFi on my phone and then it would work better on 4G. Usually.
Speaking of wifi, here is an annoying scenario you’ll bump into with Fongo: you get a call at a place where your phone is connected to WiFi. You answer it and choose to carry the conversation outside. As you walk away from the WiFi, your phone switches from WiFi to 4G. Guess what? The transition won’t be smooth.
And sometimes, for no apparent reason, this:
For texting, again, it usually works just fine, but on some rare occasions, I’ve received text messages days after they were sent. DAYS. Again, that happened only twice in two years as far as I can tell and maybe it’s not even a Fongo problem, but I highly suspect it is.
## Unexpected Benefit: less scammy calls
I’m not sure why, but it seems like scammers don’t call VOIP numbers as much as regular numbers. In the past 2 years I had ONE scammer calling me on my Fongo phone number.
Here’s what really sucks when you only have a Fongo phone number.
### 2 Step Authentication/Verification
Many websites will give you the option to use your phone number as a backup if you forget your password and/or as an extra security layer. With Fongo, it fails most of the time because VOIP numbers are less trusted. This limitation is documented here.
I sent a picture to a friend once. He will never receive it… 😢 This limitation is documented here.
From my experience, that’s all the limitations I’ve encountered. There are others, for instance “You cannot send more than 10 messages to non-Fongo numbers within a 1 minute span.”, but I doubt that’s a problem for many people.
## Ease of use
The app itself is pretty straightforward and well made. However, it’s definitely not as good as whatever UI/UX your phone already has built-in. For one, you constantly have the “Fongo is running in the background” notification on your home screen. It does kinda remind you how the whole thing is kind of a clever hack.
I DO recommend Fongo IF:
- You dislike speaking on the phone anyway.
Which is my case. I have a phone number only because it’s pretty much required by modern society. Think of all those times when you sign up for something and they ask for your phone number.
- You’re broke
Which was my case 2 years ago. But now that I’m done with being a student… Honestly going back to a standard phone plan might be tempting if a good deal comes my way.
I DON’T recommend Fongo IF:
- Phone calls are important for you
If you have a business with clients and colleagues relying on your phone to reach you, definitely don’t go for Fongo as your only mobile number. Same if you simply enjoy talking for long periods of time over the phone.
## Conclusion, part 2
It’s free to try Fongo. Literally. So why not give it a shot out of curiosity?
I sincerely hope the company is going to keep on getting better because they are actually solving a problem and they are very close to really nailing it. That being said, over that past 2 years, I cannot say that I’ve noticed any improvement in the service.
## *August 2020 update*
Fongo didn’t get better. I had to call the government twice this year and both times the line dropped in the middle of the call. I now use Gmail to make phone calls when I can.
Full Disclosure: I am not being paid or otherwise compensated by Fongo nor its competitors to write this article. All opinions expressed in this article are my own.