Google Voice is a pretty awesome service…one which allows for phone calls to anywhere in the States, low-rate long distance, video chat, and voice mail. Best of all? It’s completely free of charge.
Of course, there’s a catch. It’s not available everywhere. Even in those countries where it is available, you can’t actually receive phone calls.
If you aren’t completely opposed to the idea of spending some cash, it might be worth looking into Tellfi, an intelligent virtual phone service based out of the States. With a free offering that includes fifty minutes and local calling, Tellfi also includes several ‘tiers’ of phone plans, starting at $10/month. Have a look – it’s a pretty decent and definitely worth a look.
Another alternative is Ring Central, a paid service that’s almost more feature-rich than Google’s own offering. An always-on, fax-enabled Internet phone line, Ring Central is designed with enterprise users in mind, allowing consolidation of both home and office into a single number. Although it might be a touch pricier than either Google Voice or Free Phone Line, it’s still likely to cost considerably less than you’d be paying your phone company – particularly if you live up in Canada.
Finally, there’s Phonebooth, which again, is geared towards enterprise customers. It comes with 200 free minutes and a contact widget for your site. For $20/month, you can set up a fully automated calling system, allowing customers to choose which departments or employees they connect to and speak with.
For any Canucks out there, there’s the rather blandly named Free Phone Line. In addition to the basic service, they’ve all the requisite bells and whistles including paid VOIP support, the ability to add additional numbers (requires a monthly subscription fee), the ability to add your old home number to your Free Phone Line account, and most interestingly, the ability to activate Free Phone Line on a standard home telephone. Unfortunately, where Google Voice allows free calling anywhere in the US and Canada, Free Phone Line is limited to a (fairly long) list of major Canadian cities.
Oh, well. You can’t have it all, I suppose.