How I ditched my voice plan and went data-only

One year ago, I decided to take my iPhone data-only. No voice plan. No texting plan. Just sweet, sweet data.

I don’t like paying for things that I don’t use, and I rarely use the telephone part of my iPhone. That is, I don’t make many voice calls over the cell network. So I figured I could save some money.

I looked around for data-only smartphone plans in Canada, but couldn’t find any. The carriers don’t seem to offer data without voice.

However, there’s an exception: tablets.

Most of the big carriers are happy to sell data-only plans for use with a data-only device, like a tablet, hotspot, or wireless modem. But can you sign up for a data-only plan intended for a tablet and use it with a smartphone?

Yes. And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past year. I use a month-to-month tablet Flex plan from Bell with my iPhone 5. Most months, I pay ~$40/month (tax in) for 5GB of data, and that suits me just fine.

Sound good? Here’s how I got it all set up, and some of the workarounds I’ve found that make living data-only a little easier:

Getting a SIM card

Bell Nano SIM

To pull this off, I first needed a Nano SIM card for my iPhone. Bell sells Nano SIMs off-contract for $10, but I’d heard that if you ask nicely, the Apple store gives them away for free.

Sure enough, when I visited my local Apple store and asked for a Bell Nano SIM, they gave me one. I didn’t have to sign up for a contract in-store, or provide any personal information. Easy.

Setting up a new account

To sign up for Bell’s tablet flex plan, I had to set up a new account. Honestly, I would have preferred a prepaid option, but the flex plan (with its desirable tiered pricing) was only available on a post-paid, month-to-month basis.

Setting up a new account was simple. I telephoned Bell (on Jenna’s phone), asked for the tablet Flex plan, and read them the ICCID from my newly aquired Nano SIM.

Because Bell was running a promotion at the time, they waived the usual $35 setup fee, and offered me “worry-free” (no overages) data for $5/month for the first two months. Bonus.

Shortly after hanging up with Bell, I popped the Nano SIM into my iPhone, and was happy to see that everything worked with zero on-device configuration. Nice.

Secret Bell phone number

A side note: despite signing up for a data-only plan, my Bell Nano SIM does have a Toronto-area 647 phone number associated with it. I can place and receive calls, and send texts to and from this number. But I don’t, because calls and texts are billed by Bell at high rates ($0.40/min and $0.20/text in 2013), and I have better, cheaper workarounds (see below). That said, it’s nice to know that in an emergency, I could make a good old-fashioned telephone call.

Speedy data

In my everyday use, Bell’s LTE is fast. This is typical:

Speedtest

Bell’s top flex plan tier gives me up to 5GB/month — way more than I’ve ever actually used (outside of the first two “unlimited” months, when I went crazy). Data costs $10/GB if I ever go over.

Yes, tethering works just fine, with no additional charges. This is especially handy when Via Rail’s on-board WiFi just isn’t cutting it.

Workarounds: Voice Calls

Like I said, I could make calls over the Bell network, using the number associated with my SIM. But that would defeat the purpose of going data-only, wouldn’t it? Instead, I make voice calls from my iPhone using a handful of alternatives.

For calling “regular” phones, I use Acrobits Softphone for iOS, configured to use a SIP account through VoIP.ms. I ported my local Toronto phone number to VoIP.ms in late 2011, and haven’t looked back since. This SIP setup lets me place and receive voice calls easily, and never uses Bell’s voice network.

I also have a Google Voice account, which I sometimes use for longer outgoing calls. Google’s Hangouts app for iOS lets me dial regular phone numbers directly.

Finally, for calling other iPhone owners, I use Facetime Audio. It’s baked into iOS at the system level, the audio quality is very good, and it works well on both WiFi and cell data networks. I agree that Facetime Audio is Apple’s biggest little feature addition in iOS 7, and I look forward to its debut on the Mac in 10.9.2.

A small Facetime Audio wrinkle: Since Facetime on the iPhone is associated with your iPhone’s telephone number, and since my iPhone has a Bell-issued number that I don’t use (and don’t want anyone to know about), it’s important that I set my Facetime Caller ID to something other than that “secret” number. I use my email address instead.

I know this sounds overly complicated. Believe me, it’s not. Like I said, I don’t make a lot of voice calls on my iPhone, and for anyone who dials me, my phone number is the same as it’s been for years.

Workarounds: Texting

iMessage has almost completely replaced texting for me. All data, all the time.

When I need to text someone who’s not on an iPhone, I use the Google Voice iOS app, and make sure to preface my message with “It’s Dan,” because my Google Voice number is US-based.

A texting wrinkle: Weird things happen when people text my local Toronto (416) number. Because my SIP provider doesn’t support incoming SMS messages, texts often turn into voicemail messages featuring a text-to-speech robot. In the future, I may switch away from VoIP.ms to another SIP provider that supports SMS, like Anveo.

Conclusion

It took a bit of work to get set up, but a year in, living data-only works well, and saves me money.

My ideal wireless carrier would act like a dumb data pipe, and let me pick and choose the services I run on top of it. With a data-only tablet plan, I get as close to that as possible.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Filed under: phones

Tags: , , ,

Comments

  1. Pierre says:

    Thx Dan,

    Just got an old unlocked iphone4 for free. Doesn’t need an expensive plan as I don’t need to place a lot of calls but only use apps most of the time.

    I already downloaded Fongo for voice VOIP and it works great on wi-fi.

    You just confirmed me that buying a Tablet data plan will work on my iphone.

    I know you’re using Acrobits but what is your appreciation of the quality of your calls. Is the quality ok or real bad ?

    I read you have to change the APN settings on your phone, is this true?

    Thx

    • Dan Misener says:

      Voice call quality w/ Acrobits + VoIP.ms has been quite good for me, over WiFi, 3G, and LTE.

      I didn’t have to change any APN settings. Everything worked out of the box, simply by inserting a Bell tablet SIM into my phone. Of course, your mileage may vary.

    • Hailey says:

      Pierre did this work out for you ? As I am very interested by only have a 4S and all of the tablet plans are for 4GLTE networks.
      Were you able to do it with your Iphone4?

    • Jeremy says:

      I use Acrobits Groundwire softphone with a SIP account through the “google voice” gateway at simonics.com. The call quality is actually better that it is with the regular phone app. I have Verizon as my carrier as prepaid $45 per month with unlimited talk/text and 2Gb of data (which suits me well). My point is that the simonics SIP gv gateway with Acrobits is simply incredible.

      • Matias Garcia says:

        And in iOS 10: VOIP API!

        I’m currently using the native Android client (Nexus 6P) but it’s flaky when I’m on WiFi. It can’t connect reliably unless I’m on LTE (sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t).

        The moment Groundwire implements the Apple VoIP API and I can receive and make calls with a Siri and/or a headset, I’m switching! I’ll have to write a more responsive Voip.ms SMS client, however…

  2. Pierre says:

    Thx again for your feedback. Will try it then.

  3. Jeff says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for posting this great info. Coming off a three year Bell plan, and now owning an unlocked 5, I was wondering if this was possible. Picked up the free nano sim from apple on your tip (thx!). There is the pre paid option called the “30 Day Pass”, but after calling bell to activate the card, this option requires me to continue the setup on the iPad, which I of course don’t have, just the 5. So now I’m stumped. Not sure if I have to go with a Flex Plan to make this actually work as you did. Also they do specify the IPad plan, and specifically the Tablet Plan, I’m not if it matters or if you meant to ask them for the tablet plan in order to make it work? Any input into this would be great, like you I wanna be data only on LTE for cheap :-)

    • Dan Misener says:

      Not sure, Jeff. I opted for the Flex Plan, which didn’t require any on-device setup.

      • Andrew says:

        My solution is much easier, same bell data plan, but I use magic jack app for calls (I even have a CDN number, costs $10/yr and magic jack service is $120 for 5 years)

        Texting is with Text plus and that’s free.

        So do the math and avoid the hassle. Oh yes, magic jack comes with voice mail call display, etc.

      • Heather says:

        Does this work for Android? I am on a crap bell prepaid 30$/month($25, 5$ discount for first eight months)with 200 local mins,no long distance! 200mb data-which is not enough data for sure. Seriously considering data plan since I already have the sim card….but what happens to my bell phone number, do I loose it? I have contacts that only contact me every few months and I don’t really want a new number cause they’ll have a hard time finding me!

        • Bill says:

          Other comments seem to imply it works fine with Android. Some day when I get around to doing this myself, I suspect I’ll walk into 7-11 and get their data only plan.

          You could port your current number to voip.ms and never have to again worry about losing your number. ~$1/month to hold on to it, though.

          There’s a voip.ms app for txt’ing, worst case, on the txt front.

  4. Aksam says:

    Hey there,

    thanks a lot for your article. I want to do the same than you but I do need to be able to use the voice part rarely.

    What rate will be applied if you make a phone call using this plan?

    Let’s say I use like 10 min of voice per month, will I able to both receive and make calls?

    Same with text?

    Thanks man.

  5. Zach says:

    Hi,

    Just an update, voip.ms is beginning to implement SMS function for Canadian phone numbers.

    I have a 647 number with the service and they’ve just added the SMS feature.

    You can set it to forward to an email address, but I find the SMS to email delivery speed inconsistent, it can take anywhere between an instant to an hour.

    There is also the URL call back feature for the incoming SMS. If we start to get creative, we could have the SMS logged onto a google spreadsheet.
    Haven’t have time to figure it out yet, but the methods could be similar to these:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wovvU46Zmho
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0wjM1Ds3lc

    On another note, the major barriers to using SIP VOIP service on a mobile is that (1) the app must be running in the background all the time in order to receive calls, and (2) in order to pick up a receiving call, one must unlock the phone and then access the SIP app.

    Have you found or aware of any SIP apps and/or OS
    combinations that’s able to address the above issues? What’s your experience?

    I’m so waiting for a day when mobile phone manufacturers start to bake SIP functions directly into the phone OS (I can’t see why that cannot happen other then making the telecom providers very angry, all the more reasons for net neutrality), and be able to use any SIP service we like, using the default dailer/phonebook/SMS interface etc…, similar to how we can now just setup email accounts on the phone.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Dan Misener says:

      Thanks for the heads-up about SMS on voip.ms Canadian numbers.

      Re: #1 — VoIP app running in the background — I use Acrobits Softphone, which offers push notifications through Apple’s push server. My understanding is that their third-party server stores your SIP credentials, and stays logged in for you. Then, if a call comes it, they send a push notification. Works reasonably well for me.

    • George says:

      I know you posted this a while ago and maybe it’s not relevant anymore (or you figured it out) but Android has offered built in SIP handling for a few years. Once you add your sip account all sip calls are handled by the default phone app and are indistinguishable from any other type of call

    • george says:

      On Android it is possible to choose a voip application like Fongo to be the default app to place or receive calls. It qill opens as soon as you receive a call and it stay in the background. For text you can use TextMe is one of the best free text apps out there. For mor info reed this: http://freemobilenetworks.com/best-communication-apps/

    • A dead-easy and cheap solution which is a lot simpler than the above:

      Get a Prepaid phone. Enable a Favourite Caller (unlimited calls to one or more numbers) feature. Buy a $.005/min long distance calling card with a local calling number. Add it as a “favourite”. Adjust your contacts to dial via the calling card. Done. Now you have sub-penny-per-minute outgoing calls to anyone in the Free World.

      More complicated option:

      I’ve used CSIPSimple app on Android for 3 years and it has options to tap or swipe to answer a call, so it addresses that issue.

      The call dialog appears even if the phone is locked.

      Three drawbacks:

      1) If you’re in poor WIFI coverage and not paying attention to your phone it is possible but very rare that the phone will receive the call notification but not the call end notification, in which case the phone may ring for hours and wear down the battery.

      2) Lag. It’s largely unavoidable. Use a low-rate codec where supported.

      3) G.729 codec is a paid add-on. One-time fee but it’s a barrier to adoption for many.

      Myself, I hate G.729 call quality. Some people like the spectral synthesis and comfort noise features of this codec but I hate them. So I prefer the regular ‘high-rate’ GSM codec (13kbps) even though it uses 50% more data and sounds duller.

      On any plan with a “Favourite Numbers”, “Calling Circle”, “My Five” etc plan, it’s possible to receive calls for free on your pay-as-you-go number if you pay for that calling feature.

      Most complicated method of all:

      Set up your own SIP server, such as Asterix, direct your DID to it, and have it forward all calls to your PAYG phone with the callerID spoofed to one of your “My Five” numbers. This effectively gives you unlimited incoming calls. Additionally you can configure the Asterix server to take calls from yout PAYG number to your DID and prompt you for the number you really wanted to call, then terminate that call via the cheapest acceptable trunk. These days PSTN routing is pretty cheap but if you talk for thousands of hours per month it may be worthwhile to use one of the cheaper trunks.

  6. Aksam says:

    I also want to give an update on VoiP.ms

    The service is good enough is you only plan on using it in Canada and some foreign countries. However, you need to know that VoiP.ms will not be able to make some calls in some countries.

    A friend of mine advised me to use VoiP.ms but I have been very disappointed in the service.

    • Jason says:

      I’ve been using this exact data-only method for several years now. Was a bit of a chore making it work, but the key was mobile phone hardware being fast enough to do voip audio smoothly.

      The only difference is that I use voip.ms for my Canadian number all the time (even got my wife onto it), and it works brilliantly. My fees are so low, very much like OP said, sometimes lower.
      And I use the same voip account at my desk so I have one number, one voicemail, one SMS regardless of where I am. The way it should be. And because I use an Android phone, I set the voip account as its default phone account so I can voice-dial using my voip.ms account over data in the car – excellent!

      Caveat, is that voip.ms is a nerdy service. It is designed and run as nerdy wholesale system; supported by nerds spewing acronyms. If you are not comfortable in this environment, find something else; but if you are, it’s a very powerful and very affordable option.

  7. Booby says:

    That is actually a very good idea and I am thinking of doing something similar, but I don’t have an iPhone. Will an Google Galaxy nexus do huge trick? All google phones come unlocked, so would it still work.

    • Dan Misener says:

      Good question. No clue about the answer, though. All I know is that it works well on my iPhone.

    • George says:

      A galaxy nexus would be better because it offers built in SIP calling. Once you add your sip account calls come through the regular phone app and function just like regular phone calls (rather than having to use a third party app).

    • Jason says:

      YES! I’m doing this with a Nexus 4. Most Android (unless the proprietary manufacturer has disabled it) has a native voip stack built right in.

      Check in its phone account settings for a voip account option

  8. Adam says:

    I run this exact setup on nexus 4 android. Great for areas with strong data signals as calls are generally clear but degrade quickly as you head to rural regions.

    • Ariannah says:

      I know this article is a little older, but I have a nexus 4 and would love to do this. I just cancelled my phone plan because I’m all about the data. (even the person who spoke to me when I exited the plan commented that it was pretty much the only activity on my account).

      • Jason says:

        I’ve been doing this with a Nexus 4 since last Dec – love it!
        It isn’t perfect, probably because it’s not LTE – my iPad Air voip over LTE is awesome, scary really. So once Nexus 6/L (whatever) comes out with new processor and LTE it will probably scream as well.

  9. Serge says:

    You can walk straight to virgin store (bell network) and ask for tablet plan on ur iphone. They will do it right in front of you, you can also add incoming call for 10$ a month. The tablet plan is flexible depending on your usage. I use Line2 for my calling about 10$ a month with a canadian number and voicemail. I might change it for voip.ms.

  10. John says:

    Are you aware of any US carriers willing to cut the b.s and provide a data only service? Also, are you referring to 3 or 4g for iphone 5? I have an unactivated at and t iphone 3 as well. THanks
    JH

  11. philippe goulet says:

    I use Fongo with a 5$/month for 100mb per month plan from President choice Mobile (bell’s network). Thats it!! 80 $/year (fongo text is 1, 66 $/month) and I get all the calls and texting I need for 1 year. I have wifi at home and work. I CHALLENGE ANYBODY TO BEAT THIS.

    • greg says:

      Hi

      How did you get a Canadian number…can I port my old number

      Thanks

    • OKK says:

      Thanks for those tips, Philippe, and for the article, Dan!

      Philippe, were you able to do data-only on Pres Choice? I don’t see that option available online, at least not here in BC….

      Also, for those in the US, I have heard that Republic Wireless is pretty awesome. (I was looking for a Canadian version of RW when I happened upon Dan’s article, in fact.) They integrate everything (VOIP, data, etc.) into one package for you, and offer phones, too–although I don’t know whether they have the option of using your existing phone.

  12. Gary O says:

    I have the magic jack plus. They have an app for the iPhone. I’m thinking this idea to have a data plan will also work with my magic jack. My question is, are you required to give identification numbers of the device you intend to use? I went to Telus to ask about how to sign up and they said something about registering the device numbers. Can you comment on this? Thanks in advance.

  13. Gary O says:

    Just to further my question, if I do use an iPhone and a device number is req’d what should I say? Again, if this isn’t the case and I’m confusing this issue with something else let me know.

    Thanks again.

  14. Gary O says:

    Hi Dan,
    Just so I understand how this works:
    1. I currently have no cell phone
    2. Obtain an unlocked cell phone (IPhone)
    3. Ask nicely at the Apple Store and obtain a nano SIM card
    4. Go online (or call) a provider and ask for a data flex plan
    5. Along with all the sign up details, provide them with your SIM card number (ICCID)
    6. There should be nothing in the sign up process that requires you to register the device (so that they know what device you are using – hence my comments in above post.
    7. Insert SIM card into IPhone and it should start up a WiFi connection
    8. Sign up (in my case I would use my Magic Jack account with the IOS app) to a VoIP service and presto, you have a “on-line” cell phone saving a ton of money.
    9. Do you know or have heard whether they can detect how you are using the data plan IE VoIP usage and perhaps charge you extra or cancel the plan on you because of how you are using the network?

    10. Most data plans….so does that mean I have WiFi access wherever I go (except the far far north Of course) or are there limitations? I live in south western ontario 25 min west of Kitchener…so some what rural but in a reasonable proximity of some larger cities….do you think I’d have consistent access to the WiFi network?

    Sorry for the rehash but I’m just trying to make sure that I fully understand how this works because if I understand it correctly, it’s absolutely brilliant and exactly what I’ve been looking for. But of course I’ve got to purchase an unlocked phone (so I want to make sure).

    Thanks in advance,

    Gary O

    • Dan Misener says:

      This sounds right. Keep in mind that my experience involved an unlocked iphone 5 on bell at the beginning of 2013. Things may have changed since then, and I have no experience with other carriers on this. Be warned that your mileage may vary. Can’t guarantee that the plan you describe will work. Probably a good idea to borrow a friend’s unlocked phone to try it out first.

  15. Gary O says:

    Hi Dan,

    I looked up some additional info regarding device identification – IMEI – that’s what the folks at Telus would request before activating a data flex plan. Is this the same as Bell’s activation process? If so, how did you get around this. I don’t have a device that has that number OR would I use the one on an unlocked IPHONE and simply pretend it’s for a tablet when signing up on say an online registration page OR am I out to lunch on this?

    Again,

    Thanks in advance!

    Gary O

    • Dan Misener says:

      Looks like the IMEI check is new as of September 2013, part of the stolen phones blacklist. Not sure if there’s a way to avoid this. But then again, I’m not quite sure whether Telus really cares what your IMEI is, so long as you’re not using a stolen device.

    • GregL says:

      From what I have heard is they must bind your SIM card to the IMEI number, but this is not confirmed. I think its so if you loose your phone it prevents someone from pulling your SIM and putting in a new one of their own. They can tell what kind of device you have by your IMEI number, try punching yours into this site http://www.imei.info/

      Rogers (and others) don’t want you to get data only on phones so the front line support don’t even have the option to enable this setup. You need to get creative to get around it.

      GregL

    • Michael says:

      Gary, the IMEI code is normally underneath the battery of your devide and additionally on the box where it was stored when you’ve bought it.
      The IMEI registration it’s related with the possibility to address a phone call to a specific apparatus/person/identity.
      When you do initiate a call, within millisecond occur some process related with the “origination” of your call that will in one hand address your call to the desired recipient and on the mean time allow the carriers to address the charge for the phone call.
      MNO’s are losing billions a year in the so called “IP gray area” therefore are trying to fil this gap by implementing the capabilities to addres a charge.
      Without mentioning eventual security related issues.

    • Christopher says:

      This does not work on the Telus network. When you activate your phone on the Telus network the IMEI is registered to the account which includes information indicating the type of device (Phone VS tablet). If the device activated doesn’t match the plan on the sim the plan will be void. So if you put a Telus tablet sim into a Telus phone, any data used will be considered off plan and charged out at some ridiculous rate like $1/mb.

      • Ryan says:

        I have a Nexus 4 on a telus tablet flex plan. To make it work I just had to go into the APNs and change it from sp.telus.com to isp.telus.com. This makes sure you’re not charged for data. The first is for a voice plan, the 2nd for tablets/mobile internet.

  16. Stanley Moxon says:

    Will this work on an Android

  17. GregL says:

    Dan, all,

    I recently moved to this setup and find it’s working great. Here is what I did.

    Bought a $99 BlackBerry Z10 unlocked (ex employee)

    Visited Rogers website online support in the evening and asked the question “Can I have a data only Flex plan for my BlackBerry DEVICE”. Avoid saying phone. The answer was yes.

    Visited a Rogers store and asked to signup my internet device for the $5 Flex data plan. Guy looks at my Z10 and says the IMEI number won’t allow him to register it for this plan. No kidding, they don’t want us doing this. I tell him support said yes so he hands over the SIM card and says good luck.

    Wait for evening when support roles over to Malaysia or India or something. Go online and give my Rogers account along with the SIM card number and IMEI number. They say sure can do. 10 minutes later it’s working.

    I already had my VOIP.MS account setup so I installed BRIA VOIP app and register. VOIP.MS are good and cheap. 0.01 cent a minute for US & Canada.

    You need to call Rogers support a month or so later and ask them to block all incoming and outgoing voice and texting as you get charged for these even when they are wrong numbers etc. They can’t deactivate the phone number they assign to the plan but can stop people from calling it. Make sure they disallow premium texting to your number as these are the telemarketers.

    Things I’ve noticed. Yes, you need to keep you VOIP app running at all times. So you need to remember to run it when you turn your phone on in the morning.

    I leave mobile-network and Wi-Fi enabled at all times as the BB10 knows to use the cheaper Wi-Fi when available first.

    I paid the extra $9 to buy the G729a Audio Codec to compress my voice when using the more expensive data network and can tell BRIA to use wide-band when on the Wi-Fi (not my dime).

    My biggest problem is trying to get texting with this setup. I don’t know much about BBM and all that, I just want something that will allow me to text to people’s phone numbers and receive texts. Not sure what I can do with VOIP.MS for this. Have not found any apps for BB for this either.

    BTW BB10 now supports Android so I can run most Android apps.

    GregL

    Rogers FLEX data plan:

    10MB $5
    100MB $10
    500MB $20
    5GB $40

    • Mike Doyle says:

      Hey Greg

      Can you go into more detail about your VOIP.MS account.

      How much does it cost? What features do you use? Does the BRIA app support SMS? Can you port an existing cell phone number to VOIP.MS?

      Cheers,
      Mike

      • Greg lague says:

        Voip.ms is 99c a month for the number. 1c a minute for call time (us Canada). Call display, Id, voice mail, many other features. Imported my home phone over this summer for a one time 10 dollar charge. Using a Cisco voip router and many call features come free. My fav. Is the call filter. When you get a marketing/sales call from India etc you can lookup their caller I’d and block them from here on in.

        No SMS as yet. Avg monthly phone bill $2.99

        Greg lague

    • Neil says:

      Greg – can you please specify what you mean by Rogers online support. Are you going into Support/ Technical Support/ Live Chat?

      Am I correct in understanding that you can get a Live Chat agent to activate a new phone?

      Thanks.

  18. I’m really happy to see I’m not the only one wanting to go data only.

    I use VOIP on a hardphone for my business. I wantes to have rhe same number ringing on my smartphone when I’m out of office.

    Will try it soon!

    What do you think about 3G spped and latency for VOIP?

  19. Jim says:

    Being Deaf this is helpful as so many of the telephone company plans out there want to sell voice along with the phone!

    I have been testing with voip.ms
    voip.ms now has sms and you can configure, try heading to their SMS wiki.

    http://wiki.voip.ms/article/SMS

  20. Denise says:

    I am still trying to figure out how to get data only on my iphone 4. I used prepaid with Fido and pay $100 for 365 days. I currently don’t have data. I use wifi when available and buy data day passes when I need it.
    I would like to eventually have data only so I can use Fongo as my main VoIP cell phone. I use Fongo when I have access to wifi to save my prepaid minutes.
    You’re lucky you found a way to get data only on your iphone 5

  21. Oren says:

    another data point:

    If you put a Telus SIM into your iphone, they will detect it and disable your data connection. Just happened to me. I had to call in and get them to fix it and revert extra charges.

  22. Sean says:

    I’m planning on doing the same thing, but with TextMe

    I hope my parents agree on getting me a data only plan.

  23. Al Watson says:

    re: the Android question, not sure about all phones/providers, but I have this setup working on a Galaxy S3 on a Bell flex plan. Sure enough I went to an apple store and sweet talked a free SIM card out of them. Happened to go by a Bell store in the same mall to get some literature on tablet flex plans. Bell was actually very helpful, gave me another free SIM, activated it, started the flex plan and gave me 14 days to try and opt out if I was unsatisfied. At no point was there any discussion of what device it was going in. So the plan starts at $5/month and flexes up to $40 for 5GB, not bad. It’s a pay as you go, no contract, cancel anytime. So I stick the SIM in the phone (it’s unlocked) boot it up and it’s on the LTE network in 2 seconds. Checked the APN settings and they have been automatically entered, browsing speed appears to be very good. I’m impressed so far with the ease of this. I have a skype plan and app that I use while traveling that runs well on the android phone, so that will be my voice call solution for now. It’s not free but very cheap, and the main point of this exercise for me was to get a decent data plan for fair price. Also I have a youmail account for $5/month that I use as a voicemail server while overseas that delivers my voice messages via email as an mp3 file, so I’ll start giving that out as my mobile number and return calls via skype to those worthy of a reply (not many). Facebook messaging appears to be emerging as my most reliable messenger. Not sure if it’s the long term solution. So anyway, thanks to the original poster for turning me onto this idea, will take same time to train family and friends about this – those over 50 have given me strange looks – but it IS doable and a way to beat the TelCo’s a bit to get some decent data allowance on a phone.

    • Jason says:

      A number of years ago I got a Mifi from Bell, the portable hotspot; as a test to see if a data only connection would work for me. Then when I wanted to convert that account to a mobile data-only plan the Bell rep on the phone asked me what device I wanted to convert the plan to – I told him Nexus 4 and he knew right away it was a phone and said so. But I repeated to him that I wanted my data-only plan to move to the Nexus 4 and he just laughed and said, of course that’s fine.
      And that was that.
      I like that Bell’s moved their primary call centre work back to Canada. Their guys are pretty cool.

  24. Al Watson says:

    Dan,

    Googled into this and just now realizing this is your personal blog. Apologies for referring to you as the OP, and thanks for raising my awareness of this possibility. Cheers, Al

    • Al Watson says:

      update to my experience:

      back on assignment in Ghana and had hoped to use Fongo
      instead of skype….because I cannot SMS with skype and
      have no local Canadian phone number…Fongo worked pretty
      well at home, does not work in Ghana. I’m on vodafone with good 3G connectivity, can browse and use other data rich apps just fine, the Fongo app never connects, so is useless…back to skype I guess

  25. Matt says:

    Today, I signed up for the flex plan with Bell. Tested my iPhone and it worked without fail.
    I just ported my 3rd cell line to Fongo. Daughter gets an emergency only fongo phone & I pay $5/month for the data only.
    Not bad!

    • Dan Misener says:

      Congrats, Matt. Not sure I’d want to trust anything emergency-related to VoIP, though.

      • hailey says:

        Sending a thank you out. After reading this blog and doing some research I walked into a Rogers store in June and asked for the data flex plan. The sales person knowingly set me up for it on my iphone 4. Gave me a stern warning not to text or call from the sim number and I have been using it all summer – loving it- saving money. I use Fongo for texting/callings, its something like 99 cents a month. Only interesting thing is the sales rep signed it up as a Business plan — Perhaps an easy way around ?
        Thats my story and thanks for sharing yours !

        • Dan Misener says:

          Glad to hear it worked, Hailey!

        • Greg lague says:

          Make sure you call Rogers support and have them disable incoming and outgoing voice and SMS, otherwise you will get dinged. Also premium SMS , have them disable this as it’s your cost each time they send you a marketing text.

          Rogers assign you a phone number to your data account for some bizarre reason. This can be used accidentally say when you ask your gps to call home, it doesn’t understand voip so it uses the native call app on your phone. In my case the bb 10 phone to call out and it’s a buck a shot.

          Hope this helps.
          Greglague

        • R#G says:

          Dear Hailey,

          I am considering Fongo for talk and text, how is the reliability of sending/receiving SMS? Do your incoming and outgoing calls work (I have tried everything but Fongo, and I am unable to get two way audio on incoming calls)?

          I’d love to port to Fongo if everything works =).

          • Al Watson says:

            Hi R#G,

            Obviously I’m not Hailey, but I’ve switched to Fongo using this data only setup on my SG3 – Android.

            SMS has been solid. No missed messages, near-immediate delivery.

            Voice calls have been generally pretty good in and out going. I’ve had a few bad connections and dropped calls, but seems to be no more frequent than with normal cellular connections.

            One struggle I did have was with bluetooth integration. Would not work with my car (Ford Sync). Took a few days to sort it out, but the answer was there at the Fongo knowledge base. So I can hands-free answer Fongo calls and speak/listen trough the car’s bluetooth. Outgoing calls need to be intiated with the handset, then work fine through bluetooth. Apparently Android forced Fongo to remove the setting where the app can become the default dialer – a legal snafu – other than that I’m pretty happy. I expect this issue to be the same with a bluetooth headset.

          • hailey says:

            Hailey here,
            I’ve been using Fongo’s audio for the past two years both aboard and locally with not a single issue until I would say the past few weeks! Ive been having weak signals, however only with certain contacts. With regards to SMS I have had zero issues.
            Do let me know if you find a better voice service!

          • R#G says:

            Thanks very much for your comments Al Watson & Hailey, My number just finished porting today after much research, it’s amazing, can hardly tell the difference.

      • Matt says:

        I don’t mean 911 type of emergency…more like – “My volleyball practice is cancelled…come get me”

        I can also now track the location of the phone if it gets lost or stolen.

        I’m actually thinking I’ll switch from Rogers to Bell and do the $10/month shared data…that way I can share 6gb with no worries of overages.

  26. R#G says:

    Hello All,

    I just switched to a tablet plan as well, I notice on both WiFi and 3G/LTE, All outgoing calls are perfect but incoming calls are one way, I can’t hear the other party. I have tried STUN, and multiple client softwares. I have my own IPv4 unfiltered in a data center could this be used to VPN or forward my phone traffic past the NAT?

    I’m tempted to just count it as a blessing that outgoing works, and anyone making an incoming call, will just have to go to voicemail and wait for a callback.

    • R#G says:

      An update!

      I have been on a DataFlex Plan for 5Months now, using VoIP.MS Pay-As-You-Go.

      Monthly Breakdown
      1. Data $5=10MB, $20=1GB, $40=5GB
      2. VoIP 99Cents 1cent incoming, 0.5cent outgoing (unlimited text, voicemail, voicemail to email, callerid, callfiltering, etc,.)

      I average under $10 a month since I typically have WiFi @home and @work. Switch to data when I am out of range of known WiFi AP’s. Mostly text on the go. Some months I use way more data and top out around $25, its nice to know I have unlimited everything and 5GB for $45 which is roughly a Wind plan but on Bell’s LTE network. To bypass carrier restrictions banning VoIP, or blocking SIP/RTP, or NAT issues. I send all my traffic through VPN/SSH tunnels.

      Upon connecting to any network WiFi or Data, My Firewall rules change to permit certain apps (E.g. block most things on data), My DNS gets set to my personal adblocking DNS, followed by creating a tunnel to a computer somewhere else off the carrier’s network. All my traffic on my phone appears to come from a SOCKS5 proxy hosted @home, that prevents me from ever being blocked or spied on while using public networks.

      If you enable the VoipMS API, you can even install an android app that gives you your texts, call logs, call rules filters, balance, phonebook, etc,. literally edit anything from your account from within the app. You’ll never need to login to the site again with this setup.

      My VoIP Setup
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.csipsimple
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.csipsimple.plugins.codecs.pack1

      My SMS and Control Center
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pcability.voipconsole
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pcability.VoipConsoleLicense
      https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/voip-ms-console

      Currently Not Installed: Just havent bothered
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.csipsimple.plugins.codecs.g729

      Currently Not Installed: I tried it but could never get it to login, app maybe fixed or updated, or it could be my phone. The app above worked as I wanted and more, so I sort of left this one alone. Though I really do like its classic SMS look and feel. I’d use both this and the console mentioned above if they worked.
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.kourlas.voipms_sms

      Thanks for this great post Mr. Misener =]. I have save on average $30 a month now because of you. If I had of ported from soemthing other than Wind, I’d be thanking you for saving me $50, $60, or $70. I look at friends phone bills of $80, who have a limited number of daytime, minutes, basic call features, and unlimited text; I immediately think $80, not including overages, not including taxes, hidden fees, etc,. That’s well over $1000 year they must be crazy!

      Good Luck All =]!

      • Matias Garcia says:

        Thank you, sir! First time I tried this, I got tired of fumbling with my iPhone in the car and the call quality near my rural home.

        I tried with an Android as well, but had the same experience, especially with the native dialer and its lack of G.729 (though answering calls when the signal was good was blissful).

        Now a year or two later, I’m committed as I subsidized a LTE iPad Mini 3 128GB for $20/mo over 2 years with Bell, only because I could sell it at a profit, and my phone bill is still less than it used to be with only 50MB of data.

        Popped the SIM into my Android and haven’t looked back other than an upgrade to a Nexus 6P. I’d been thinking of making a Voip.ms SMS app for iPhone but never searched the Play store for an equivalent. What a revelation!

        I might even retire the TextNow app I’m using. I get tired of explaining that I have separate numbers for voice and data…

  27. Phil says:

    Thanks for all this info. I’d been thinking about this for a long time. As if by magic, two days before the new apple announcements, my iphone stopped making or receiving calls and looks like a hardware issue. Had my number forwarded to a fongo account and have been doing okay so far waiting for an appointment at the apple store.

    In the meantime, a quick survey at my local mall indicates that many of the companies, including fido who I have a contract with, will sell me a data only sim.

    I typically use about 2000 minutes/month on my cell and am a little nervous to take the plunge, especially with a year left on the contract and a decent, grandfathered plan.

    Any words of en/discouragement?

    Thanks

  28. Matt says:

    Hi Phil,
    My wife does not use her phone that much but as a test, I bought a $10/month shared data sim for our Rogers plan (we share 6GB) and had her calls forwarded to Fongo. She does use Fongo occationally but she typicall calls me with Facetime Audio. Fongo works fine but for iPhone to iPhone, facetime audio works great as well as a second option.
    On another note, I ported a third phone # (my cellular business #) to Fongo and it took about a week. It’s worked fine as well.

    Texting is the only issue but you can buy Fongo to phone text plan for not too much more.

    Hope that helps.

  29. Matt says:

    The current share plans:
    https://www.rogers.com/web/content/share-everything

    I pay for one line plus 6gb data and can share the data with other devices for $10/device.

  30. Darren says:

    What is the best VOIP provider from experience? I have an iPhone and would love to do this.

  31. Nevine Kassem says:

    Hello Dan :)
    I am new to Canada i was hoping to benefit from ur great idea, so is this what i wanted to do , since i dont have a canadian number to start with , I got the DATA only prepaid pass from bell for 35 $ a month ,and i got an andoid device that is locked to bell. this sim card has a number but can not make or receive calls since it’s a data only sim , and i will sign up for an anveo number that supports calls and sms , would this plan work ?

    • Dan Misener says:

      Sorry, I can’t speak to locked Android devices or Anveo. I’m using an iPhone and VoIP.ms.

      • Nevine Kassem says:

        Thank you Dan for this great idea , it actually worked and I got bell’s prepaid 30 days pass , with a sony xperia j that i bought from bell and an anveo local number..
        to get the prepaid data plan from bell
        i called them to activate it and asked for the plan some would say yes some would say no but eventually they did it they said we will activate it and after 30 mins go to http://www.bell.ca/mydataaccount
        and you register there
        I still don’t know how to use the sms in anveo
        and somehow i am getting voicemail on the simcard :)

        • R#G says:

          Be careful, Bell will still allow you to dial out from a Data SIM from the android dialer at 40Cents a minute if you choose the dataflux plan. If you have CSIPSimple for your voip client you can write filters to deny all outgoing to mobile and send all calls using your voip number instead.

    • Matt says:

      Just use Fongo….you get a phone number free.

      http://www.fongo.com/platforms/

      • Nevine Kassem says:

        I got one , but i dont know is it okay to have a number that doesnt belong the province i live in ?

        • Matt says:

          It’s fine to have an out of province number but inconvenient for anyone local that wants to get in touch with you. What you can do is register a desktop number that is local and have it forwarded to your cell phone.
          Or you can just use the local on your cell and put the out of province line forwarded to your local number.

  32. Lee says:

    Great post and as my 3-year contract expires in 1 day — I’m looking for options.

    I have a rookie question: do I need to unlock my phone even if I’m just going to use another provider’s data plan with no voice?

  33. jey says:

    Been doing this long.

    I have a At&t worldwide unlimited data Sim card for US$ 50 odd a month from my ~2007 days back when unlimited plans were a reality. This gives me unlimited data around the world in virtually all countries where At&t roams.

    Started noticing problems with Fongo app lately on Rogers network.

    It connects fine on Wi-Fi but says internet connection missing when I switch to Rogers. All other data works fine on Rogers. Just not Fongo.

    Any ideas if Rogers is blocking VoIP now?

    • R#G says:

      If you have an android phone, I bought a $35 RaspberryPi micro computer, and it runs my Cal DAV and Card DAV, replacing my needs for google to sync my calendar and contacts, but I also created a second SSH account that can’t run a commandline or do anything, and I use it to strictly as a 24/7 SSH Tunnel w/ Portforwarding, so all my mobile data actually comes out on the internet connection the little computer is on. This maybe help you bypass any blockage happening on your data providers end.

  34. Dragan says:

    Thanks Dan for post. My setup: Iphone, Bell data only plan, for incoming calls and sms TextMe app, for outgoing calls Skype (matched # with one used on TextMe), skype 30$/year unlimited US/Canada. Free and flexible. Good luck

  35. Ravi says:

    Thanks Dan and everyone who provided their input. My setup: unlocked iPhone 6, bell flex data plan (had to setup APN ), ported number to fongo. Less than $2 for SMS. Would probably be under 1gb. So the total bill shouldnt be more than $25. Would try philppe’s idea about PC mobile on other line. Keep you posted.

    Thanks,
    Ravi

  36. SeriusNtentions says:

    Hello Don. In 2012 I cancelled my Rogers cell plan and transferred my number to Fongo VOIP app for $25.00 which has served me well. After being without a Smartphone for a while I just bought a BlackBerry Z30 just did exactly the same thing you did and I could not be happier! I bought a Bell sim card, called them up and setup a Flex tab with no activation fees!
    http://www.bell.ca/Mobility/Cell_phone_plans/Tablet_PC_data_plans/Flex_plans.tab. Since I already use Voip.Ms for my home number I might transfer my number from Fongo to VOIP.ms and use Bria BlackBerry edition.

    Many Thanks!

    Pat

    • GregL says:

      Pat,

      I’m not sure Fongo will let you port your number, but it’s free anyhow so it might just be cheaper and easier to get a new VOIP.ms number (99c) and keep Fongo. That is what I have on my Z10, two numbers. I mainly use VOIP.ms and it’s on all the time (incoming/outgoing) and use Fongo to place outgoing calls only where I am worried the receiver is harvesting numbers for marketing purposes. I.E. my Fongo app is only on when I need to place a call out.

      I noticed the BELL plan is better then the FLEX Rogers tablet plan that I have. I usually run about 2-400MB of data a month so I come in at $20 but with BELL I get 1GB for $20. I wonder how easy (and what other costs) it would be for me to switch to BELL??? Do you have to buy the BELL SIM? They say no activation fee. hmmm

      http://www.rogers.com/web/content/mobile-plans
      With Rogers I need to keep it under 500MB to stay @ $20.

      • Pat says:

        Hello Pat. My FOngo number was originally ported from Rogers. Since Fongo calls are free and VOIP.MS is not I will keep my number with Fongo as you already suggested, but yes I would be able to port my Fongo number if I wanted to. I also ported my MagicJack number to Voip.MS! As for your questions about the Bell Sim card, yes you have to buy it, and no there are no activation fees! S simply called them, told them I had a Tablet (even though I do not), gave them my IMEI and simcard number and I was up and running within 10 minutes.

      • Pat says:

        Hello GregL. My FOngo number was originally ported from Rogers. Since Fongo calls are free and VOIP.MS is not, I will keep my number with Fongo as you already suggested, but yes I would be able to port my Fongo number if I wanted to. I also ported my MagicJack number to Voip.MS! As for your questions about the Bell Sim card, yes you have to buy it, and no there are no activation fees! I Simply called them this week, told them I had a Tablet (even though I do not), gave them my IMEI and simcard number and I was up and running within 10 minutes.

  37. Todd says:

    I tried to do this with Verizon. They said they required the IMEI/MEID of the device the SIM card was in. This identifies the device is not a tablet but a smartphone. Any thoughts?

    • Dan Misener says:

      Todd — too bad Verizon doesn’t support this. My post was about using a Bell tablet plan. At the time I set it up, they didn’t require an IMEI from my device.

      • Todd says:

        That being said, I have Bria (from Counterpath) VOIP/SIP software loaded on my iPhone 4S and I have a local number ported to our provider. I have an operating phone when within WiFi range. It works. Couple it with a JetPack (in your pocket) and you’ve got a fully mobile phone.

        Separately, I saw on CNET that one can buy an LTE and activate it, then pull the SIM and use it in any LTE device at any given time. Stick it in your phone and use the phone’s hotspot for the tablet’s access.

    • Jason says:

      That’s a big bummer. Bell did ask me for my IMEI which I gave them, which was for my then shiny new Nexus 4. Other than saying “that’s a phone?!” implying/asking that I want a data-only plan for a phone am-I-sure-I-know-what-I’m-talking-about.
      Once I confirmed that I knew what I was asking for they didn’t seem to care (I recall the rep laughing a little knowing what I was up to) and set me up.
      Perhaps it’s time to ditch Verizon and tell them why.

  38. Todd says:

    PS I tried with two different SIM cards. Verizon’s system with not allow a smartphone IMEI to be activated on a tablet plan.

    • Todd says:

      I just contacted ATT. It requires the IMEI number as well. Representatives don’t have the ability to do a workaround. The company’s software recognizes the number as belonging to a phone and will not allow the representative to proceed with the activation.

      A plausible workaround is to buy a mobile hotspot, carry it in you pocket, and have your phone access the data network via the hotspot.

      Or, if CNET is correct, buy an LTE hotspot, activate it, pull the SIM card and put it in you phone. Just put the hotspot in a drawer sans SIM card. If this works, it would just cost you whatever the upfront cost of the hotspot. But, some providers have $0 options just to get you on a plan. And, there you go.

      • GregL says:

        I had the same issue with Rogers when I tried in the store to get them to activate SIM card in my BlackBerry. The computer system is designed not to allow smartphones (detected from the IMEI #) to get activated on the data only tablet plan. He gave me the chip as I complained that phone support said it was OK. So I went home, waited for 10:30 PM or later when support rolls over to India (or somewhere else far east) and did an online chat to get it activated. They knew exactly what I was doing but don’t care as they get paid likely per activation.

  39. James Wood says:

    I am doing what many have done here for years on my iPad mini with the Line2 App on Virgin Mobile Data Flex plan…with my new iPhone 6+, I popped in my same nano SIM and had hoped for the same ease of use as on my iPad. Trouble is, I have the same issue with iMessages as Dan => now that I am on an iPhone, it randomly sends texts from my “Account Number” (which is the phone number associated with my data plan which I do not want to use as it does not mean anything). I unchecked the number from iMessages, and set it to send only from my email, plus I tried the APN settings using unlockit.co.nz, but nothing really changed. I am curious if I should reset my iPhone, set it up again without my Apple ID settings, run the APN change, and then log into my Apple ID, hoping that messages will not randomly grab my Virgin “Account phone number” when sending iMessages. Any ideas? Why is this not easy? Apple sells phones, not carrier plans? I bought this unlocked for $1000.oo, this does not seem right!

    • hailey says:

      James
      Same thing happens to me, after lots of efforts it seems there is no way to get rid of the number, it happens randomly and I have just told friends to NEVER text or call that number haha.
      Do let me know if you solve this issue.

      • GregL says:

        Not sure if this is the same problem but when I got my Rogers SIM they assigned a phone number to it, I think its the law that they do (911 calling and tracking). Anyhow, I would get random people calling me by mistake and get advertising SMS messages (50c) a piece. I called Rogers support and asked them to put a block on all incoming and outgoing calls as well as SMS texting. Blocked premium texting as well as this is how they send you adds. The support guy had the same issue with his and knew exactly what to do.

  40. Laurent says:

    I have a nexus 5, ported my number to anveo six months and have a rogers flex plan. I’m using csipsimple as my voip app which is alright, some people complain about echo sounds, haven’t figurend out a way to stop it. sms isn’t great although it works. Anveo does not display my number on outgoing texts which is quite annoying, i need to keep reminding people to not reply directly, but instead reply to my number. anywho, you can ask me questions as well if you want to know more!

    • Laurent Debacker says:

      I switched to Fongo from Anveo about a year ago (I was with Anveo since April 2014) and it is much simpler. Anveo support was brutal as I had ongoing SMS problems even though I paid for their plan. With Fongo, texting and phone are built into their app, no one complains about echoing and they are cheaper than Anveo. To me, it’s a no-brainer.

  41. Neil says:

    I’m getting ready to make the move — using a magic jack phone number and text me for Sms when FaceTime is not an option.

    The one piece of functionality that I cannot figure out is how to get Siri to make a voice call for me, or to send a text, in the car hands free. The iPhone phone and message app are a charm for that. (But is +$50/month worth it for the 3x/month that I hands free call my Mum from the car?)

    Anyone have any Siri integration solutions for their voice/data apps?

  42. Daryl says:

    I just set this up on my iPhone 4S.
    I recently came out my contract with Telus. Oct 2014

    Costs (so far):

    – Unlock iPhone from Telus $35
    – Bought Acrobits (phone app) $5.99
    – Port (transfer) my phone number to Anveo $15
    – Buy Bell SIM care from Bell store $4
    – Top up my Anveo account $15

    Phone is working but I needed to add “1” to the beginning of my phone numbers. I think I can change that in my settings at Anveo. Navigating the Anveo site has a learning curve that will require patience.

    Getting the SIM card free from Apple didn’t work form me. So I went to the Bell store and tried to get a tablet Flex plan set-up on the phone. The guys didn’t think you could do that then called customer support and then they told me it couldn’t be done. So I just bought the SIM card and went home. From home I called Bell to activate the SIM card. No problems there just make sure you call from a friends phone as you will need to reboot your phone during the set-up process.

    Useful info for setting up a Anveo Account:
    http://www.googlevoiceforcanadians.com/how-to-setup-a-2-80-anveo-internet-phone-number-step-by-step/

  43. Gary says:

    Guys,

    Friend of mine had galaxy unlocked phone and I showed him this way. He got bell tablet only plan and fongo numer.

    But Bell charged every call 40 cents so bottom line is service providers charging hooping 40 cents per call.

    is there anyway to block detection?

    • Cornelius Talmidge says:

      @Gary this doesn’t make sense; something is missing in your friend’s scenario.
      I am using Bell, not with fongo, but with voip.ms – voip-based all the same – and Bell doesn’t have any monitoring for any data useage. All I get charged for is data used whether it’s email, web, video, chat, or voip.
      I’m guessing what’s really happening is that your friend is somehow using the actual Bell phone number associated with the data-only account, instead of fongo, and that is what’s getting charged. This is actually possible if you misconfigure how you call out and Bell will treat it as a regular call at *regular* retail rates, which are very expensive.

      I did this once by mistake.

  44. Ghislain Nadeau says:

    I’m with voip.ms for years now, and it’s working great.
    I was planning to buy an iPhone to do exactly that trick, but I just realised that if a iPod have nano sim slot, it’ld be alot cheaper for me!
    I don’t have that information, do anyone knows if i can make it work with an iPod? If so, what generation?

    On the other hand, i guess we could also make the same thing with an Android tablet plan on an Android phone?

    • we-designstudio.com says:

      iPod 5 and nothing less, with Line2, Skype and Bria for SIP/Digium. For WIFI I have been using a walmart internet on the go: data carries over mo to mo. You can go w/Freedom Pop in the US, 500 megs for free per month, both Sprint.

      Using this for 4 years now, works bitchin, although would not recommended for the average bear.

  45. Bill Loney says:

    It’s funny, as I read your post it seems like me and you have the exact same setup, iPhone, voip.ms, Acrobits… The only thing that was different was I use textme instead (not really a big difference) but none the less, I was entertained. Thank you.

  46. Eric says:

    Bell has a prepaid plan, use basic plan then you don’t have to pay a buck unless you use it. then add 1GB data for $30 or 2GB for $50. simple enough. No hacking.

  47. David says:

    Love the idea. We have a nettalk account, so we can get the nettalk mobile app, and make free calls anywhere in north america! All you need is a internet connection. This article shows you how! Thank you!

  48. Leo says:

    I spend $10/month on 100mb plan – https://www.speakout7eleven.ca/prepaid-cell-phone-rates#data

    any Rogers phone will work, Speakout runs on Rogers network.

    Fongo provides free canadian phone number and consumes about 0.5mb/min. Also, at home you phone switches to WiFi and you can have unlimited talk using Fongo.

    Viber app is even better than Fongo but they don’t provide phone number. But using it between with other Viber people is a delight :) – it is great for chat too, lots of cool icons to send :)

  49. Reney says:

    Will this data plan work to call via fongo? or will I get charged for voice calls?

    http://www.bell.ca/Mobility/Cell_phone_plans/Tablet_PC_data_plans/30_Day_Pass.tab

  50. Bill Smith says:

    Bell Flex data works with Fongo very well. But SMS short codes are not supported by Fongo. This is a problem if you need incoming SMS for two-factor authentication for example.

    • Neil says:

      Bill – am I right in understanding that you can purchase SMS from Fongo – $3/month? Sms for 2 factor authentication is a critical element for me, and I thought Fongo could be the solution to non-FaceTime messaging (on iPhone)

  51. King says:

    I’m in the same position of slowly cutting out my voice plan and going full data.

    Is there a reason why you didn’t simply forward your Fongo (local Canadian) calls to Google Voice?

    Why go through VoIP.ms?

  52. David Livingstone says:

    Dan – thanks for sharing. Just stumbled on your post while researching a similar solution for myself and this has been very helpful.

  53. Peter Klanger says:

    Fongo texting is $20 per year for Canada and $30 to include the USA.

    ** Fongo is probably the simplest option for most people – you can even port over your phone number from Rogers, Bell, etc for $25. Easiest setup for non-technical people – boom, you have your cell phone replaced.

    But as mentioned, Fongo doesn’t work with 2-factor authentication. Those use short code texts which aren’t accepted unless your a mobile carrier.

    Use Google Authenticator app on your phone instead. More reliable than SMS 2-factor authentication, too.

  54. Vincent says:

    Hi,

    I chatted with Bell customer service and they won’t provide a data plan only on a cell phone such as Nexus 4. Anyone can help on how to get that?

    • Jason says:

      That’s odd – that’s exactly what I did with Bell. Called them up, told them I have a Nexus 4 in hand (has to be paid for) and wanted a data-only plan like an iPad. They said ok sure.
      They won’t do this on a subsidized phone plan; but I’m curious if it was a new policy or just a bad rep.

      • Vincent says:

        Finally, they say you can’t, but I got a microSIM from the Bestbuy store with the data plan, activcated it and it just worked.

        • Jason says:

          HA! Excellent, good job.

          • Vincent says:

            Note Bell didn’t ask for the IMEI because it is for an iPad plan (not a cell).

            This is so good. I have VoIP at home and use CSipSimple on Nexus 4, so I have the the same number on the Nexus and at home. Had to make subaccount and ring setting on voip.ms to get this working. voip.ms excellent customer support was instrumental.

            I was concerned that I might be charged by Bell on the cell when dialing on the Nexus but it was not the case as you opt out of using GSM cellular network when choosing the SIP VoIP.

          • Jason says:

            I also use voip.ms (yes you need a subaccount for different devices on the same number) with my nexus 4.
            I didn’t bother with addon apps, just use the native phone voip stack built into android. Works really well, especially when processes that invoke phone calling take over, like car Bluetooth or click to dial fom web pages etc, just call up the phone which I’ve set to use “internet calling” by default.

        • William says:

          Where there is a will there is a way :-)

  55. Vincent says:

    Okay I tried your suggestion of native voip stack and it worked nice. All set!

    • Jason says:

      Excellent Vincent, glad to hear it. Also, a tip I just discovered : the voip.ms “console” app for android just updated; it allows app-level sms-ing from your nexus 4, just like it was a regular built-in sms.
      It requires a little api account config, but it’s not too difficult and I’ve been testing it out and it seems to work well so far.
      Now you can be almost completely abstracted from big telco (except the data thing .. for now) – try it out.

  56. Jeronimo says:

    Thanks for this useful post, Dan!

    I’m trying to do the same on my iPad. I’ve already signed up in voip.ms.

    I am looking for free alternatives to replace Acrobits. The best ones I have tried so far are ‘Join Softphone’ and ‘Zoiper’. However, in both cases I couldn’t get to receive calls when the app was closed (I suppose you can do this with Acrobits, right?). Any suggestions?

    By the way, how is the battery consumption with Acrobits?

  57. Vincent says:

    Looking back, I believe this to be technically complex, if not arduous, with some limitations, and it is not for anyone to try. ;)
    Thx Dan, Jason and y’all uber geeks.

  58. costa says:

    guys i recommend looking at voice/data bundle promotions running out of both bell or rogers.

    i get 3gb plus unlmtd canads calling for $50 per line.

    compared to $40 for data only and then figure out all i used to do including anveo, line2, acrobits, voip.ms,g729, wifi versus lte etc, etc….is just not worth anymore.

  59. E says:

    I have been using these Tablet Flex Plans on my phone from Telus to Fido for about 2 years now. They top out at 5GB/month for $35. Saved even more money when I got a Tbaytel Prepaid SIM. They have 20GB/Year for $100 using it on the Rogers network. Google search on how to get the SIM if you’re outside of Thunder Bay!

  60. Hey Dan, This post is over a year old now, any chance you could update with any further findings?

  61. Neil says:

    Great write-up! Really encouraged me to take the leap.

    Seems like Bell doesn’t want to block incoming calls for me. They have blocked SMS though. Has anyone experienced this?

    I’m trying to see if I can do this myself. After trying different alternatives I went to the *community* (Android Stack Exchange). Asked the following question:

    http://goo.gl/rP0y1T

  62. Neil says:

    This thread has been tremendously helpful and I wanted to add my experience with using this with iPhones.

    First, I have a regular smartphone account with Rogers. $80/month or so for 10GB plus voice. I use that smartphone account for my wife. For me, I have added a $10/month tablet plan that shares the data on my smartphone. I have also added a second $10/month tablet plan for my oldest kid’s phone. My kid and I use Fongo as a phone and text (when iMessage is not available) — although I am trying to train everyone to use FaceTime audio instead for calling. $100 for 3 cell phones is pretty good.

    Fongo is ok, not great. It is certainly not the convenience of the built in iPhone phone. (e.g. no integration with Siri, contacts, etc.., no integration with my car speakers). Answer a call quickly is a struggle as you have to unlock the phone, click the connect button, etc..

    I have not yet got Rogers to block incoming and outgoing texts and voice calls, as they inform me that it also blocks voice over IP calls. Does anyone know if this is true??? i.e. if I get Rogers to block text and voice will it also block my Fongo or MagicJack calls???

    Thanks, Neil

    p.s. Rogers let me add an iPhone as a tablet no problem. For the other phone, I actually had a data-ready iPad and signed up with that, and then switched the SIM card into my unlocked phone once it was complete.

  63. Benoit LeBlanc says:

    I’ve used a Bell tablet sim card in my OnePlus One for about 4 months. Worked like charm until yesterday.

    Now the Internet has stopped working, the only sites accessible are bell.ca and support.bell.ca.

    I tested my SIM on a unlocked nexus 5 with the same result.

    Anyone else having these issues?

    PS: for the VOIP on android I highly recommend Zoiper with the g729 addon. The other ones I tried (CSipSimple, GroundWire, Bria) just didn’t work as well, very unreliable.

  64. Jay says:

    Hi Dan,

    After reading your post, I purchased an ipad and set everything up… it worked great for about 5 minutes… and then stopped working.

    When I log into My Bell, it shows my account balance as $0 even though I just put 5GB on it, and could not have possibly used 5GB in 5 minutes.

    So I guess you’re one of the lucky ones, because I can’t get it to work for me, and now I’ve spent $600 on trying this only for it not to work. If you know of what might be causing the issue and how to fix it, please let me know.

      • Jay says:

        Bell told me that I violated the terms of service by putting the sim in an iphone (I did NOT tell them I did that, so they must have a new way to track it). They scooped the money I had paid and my account shows as $0 now even though I never used it. Warning to anyone who wants to try this… Bell has gotten wise!

  65. Jason says:

    Hey jay, I’ve got the exact thing going on, iPad (among other devices) with data on Bell and it works just great. Even my wife is using this on her iPad.

    Not sure I’m getting how the “balance” on your account plays into this. The plan is pretty well a sliding $10 and up sort of thing.

    Suggest you review your data usage area of your Bell account first so you’re at least where you “spent” your balance in data. The tabs are there are fairly self-explanatory.

    Good luck

    • Jay says:

      I didn’t spend my data… bell said I violated their terms of service and took all the money off my account because I put the sim in an iphone.

      • Jason says:

        Really?!?! Wow, well, if it makes any difference I just phoned them the first time and said I want a data plan for my Nexus 4. The guy said (he was pretty cool), “that’s a phone.” I said “yeah”; he said “ok, fine”. And that was that.
        Are you buying your iphone on a plan? Or do you own it outright?

  66. Jay says:

    UPDATE FOR EVERYONE:

    So when Bell said I was using the wrong device and “violated their terms of service” it’s because the stupid Bell agent put me on a “Tablet” plan not an “Ipad” plan…

    Got it switched over to “Ipad” put the SIM back in my phone… and now it works…

    Also if you’re with Bell, Prepaid Data Plan (which is what I got) is set up through the device itself for $35/mo for 5GB data… BUT…. the actual ACCOUNT needs to have at least $0.35 for it to work and you do that through a my bell account online (not on the ipad) …. so when I went to top up online the min amount was $15 that expires in 1 month. I called Bell Prepaid Mobility, and they put $1 on the account for FREE and I don’t have to top it up, just a tip

    And lastly, I actually have set up TWO sim cards for the SAME ipad and got cell service on 2 iphones using only one ipad. #winning!

    Thanks Dan for creating this post originally, and thanks everyone for the feedback and comments.

    • Andy says:

      Hi Jay,

      Many thanks for your information. How did you get two sim for the same iPad? Could you please offer more details on each step?

  67. NinaS says:

    Hi there

    I have a dual sim card unlocked phone (it can hold 2 sim cards at one time). I have my Rogers sim in one slot and wanted to get WIND mobile ‘ s $99/Year 1 GB/ month Sim for the second sim slit in my phone. I was wondering if anyone know if this will work and if I can just switch between the sim cards depending on if I want data at the time or not.

  68. William says:

    Dan,
    This is an awesome post, which I have really enjoyed reading. Thanks very much for leading the way.

    Have installed the Bell sim on a number of phones and have on-call data when needed, so my bill for that is $20 a month…perfect. The Bell sim has worked on an iPhone, Android and Windows phones.

    My new set-up is a dual sim BLU Win Hd. The Bell sim goes in the data sim slot and Speakout pay-as-you-go plan sim goes in the other. Speakout $25 will last a full year if needed and provides a very inexpensive (Rogers compatible) cell plan.

    Look forward to reading updates.
    William

  69. William says:

    Dan,
    A quick question, since you have experience. What is the cause of regular “unknown caller” calls from my new Bell account?
    Sound familiar? I have never given the number out, yet get dozens of “calls”.
    William

  70. Benoit says:

    There’s also a lot of spam, used to be “free” cruises, now it’s hilton hotel scams. I put my regular ringtone to “none”, and a specific one in my voip app. This way, only the calls that actually come from my # ring…

  71. Rez says:

    Hi,

    I do have my own tablet, can I bring it to store and ask them for a data-only plan?

  72. Dave says:

    Given the increasing interest in the “Internet of Things” or embedded systems. What in your opinion would be the best solution for cheapest 3g cell module connectivity to providers in Canada. Basically I have a device that can take a SIM card and all it does it SMS TEXT me if some condition is met (say my basement flooded and it sends my local number a TEXT). All I need is SMS.

    • Bill says:

      If all you need to to have the SMS transmitted, voip.ms will redirect an incoming SMS to the (SMS receiving) number of your choice.

      Else … from what I’ve heard, 7-11, of all things, is the cheapest. http://www.speakout7eleven.ca/http://www.speakout7eleven.ca/

      • Jason says:

        and! ….. if you need to be more automated (and nerdy) voip.ms has APIs you can hook into to receive these SMS messages into whatever system you have and act on them.
        So if it’s workflow automation you want, it’s all there.

        • Bill says:

          To that end (api), consider the voip.ms apps already available in the play store. Try voip.ms console first to see if it (or paid version) does what you want – https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pcability.voipconsole . I can’t run it, being GB – instead I use VoIP Assistant (free & paid) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fireballgroup.voip.assistant , but it’s dead / not maintained, and SMS is by manual self-poll only, so you have to ask it to check, not it tells you when something comes in. (Perhaps that’s enough for you?) Otherwise, like I said, voip.ms will let you put on auto-forwards for SMS, both to e-mail and to another cell. If you read e-mail on your cell – perhaps that is enough, without any apps. Note voip.ms says SMS is still beta, but it came to Canada some months ago, and has been working just fine. Bonus, while in beta, free. I think it will be one penny per SMS when they get around to charging.

          The point about the API is a good one – it shouldn’t be too hard to call wget and whomp something up. Nice thing about the apps is viewing the web traffic sent – it’s a nice reference tool for the API to get you there more assuredly, faster.

          • Bill says:

            Warning: If you forward SMS … DO NOT SET CALLERID THERE! Every call then appears to be coming from yourself, making notifications rather useless. Hey … you called yourself! Not … Joe called.

  73. Bill says:

    Rogers / Pay As You Go will do as you describe, and matches your preference for a pre-paid account.

    i.e. If you make/receive no voice calls, there are no charges.

    I would be interested in knowing / your opinion … no PAYG data option seems to match the bandwidth/capacity of the post-paid plans. (I don’t do data, little cell/voice, and wi-fi only, so have no idea as to how much capacity / at what cost is ‘reasonable’ these days. I also don’t do e-mail via cell device.)

    Does PAYG, to you, have any reasonably priced data options?

    http://www.rogers.com/web/Rogers.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=WRLS_PREPAID_LANDING&asc_refid=payasyougohttp://www.rogers.com/web/content/wireless-products/addons , click on ‘Wireless Internet Add-Ons’ to view their offerings.

  74. Steve says:

    I have been using Bell’s tablet on an iPhone for several months with no issues.

    Picked up a locked Telus phone, so tried their tablet plan on the iPhone. No go, they activated it with no problems, but started charging $50 bucks over 100Mg. Got it reversed, and am unlocking it to go with Bell.

  75. suresh says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for a great article.
    I setup Fongo on my iPhone 6 successfully.
    Had trouble setting up Whatsapp on my phone.
    Whatsapp registration not accepting my Fongo number.
    Do you have a fix for this?
    Thanks in advance.

  76. Does anyone know if it is possible to retain my current mobile# on the Fido network if I transition to a FlexData only plan on my iphone with fido? I would like to retain the voice/text capability understandably at the inflated cost and I would like to retain my current cell# instead of the new number I might get with a new data only flex plan.

    thanks

  77. don says:

    For Android Phone a great app by Michael Kourlas that handles the SMS with voip.ms.
    It’s done via Voip.ms API and can handle different numbers on one account.
    Little tricky to get going, but it does work.
    cheers,
    don

  78. JP says:

    I can confirm that this does indeed still work with Bell (Galaxy S6). It must be on postpaid data flex plan (as mentioned in the article). The $5 cheaper 30 Day Pass MUST be activated from a tablet with the SIM inserted, using the My Bell app on the tablet (as prepaid is self serve only and reps cannot override). Why is prepaid cheaper? Who knows. One could still purchase a tablet and switch it I bet (Bell’s cheapest tablet currently is about $250).

  79. Matt says:

    It is true that data is now much more important than voice these days. I took a similar approach but I use alot of data and tablet plans didn’t cut it for me. Mobile hub plans lately have been getting better and by comparison a hub plan for 10gb is $75 from rogers, where a share plan is $120 for 9gb. I managed to get this on my phone but it was a hassle, they were really strict about only activating it on an imei for a hub device, and lying did not work as they tried to run imei’s for my phone and an old data stick and neither would be accepted by the computer. I had to just get a hub device activate it and take the sim out and put it in my phone after cutting it smaller then switch the apn for data access. I tried fongo but the quality was just not up to par and the app was really buggy. Luckily hub plans have access to really cheap voice addons, got unlimited voice for $15 extra, and just use ppu texts. I typically use just under 20gb which ends up being $105 instead of $225 on a regular share plan. and rogers goes all the way up to 100gb if I was ever that nuts still just $165 with the voice.

  80. Nihir says:

    I used the same idea for Virgin, as they have the same plan options for tablet data, bit their customer service is ready better, in my opinion, and you get membership benefits.

    Also, now that Voip.ms includes SMS, there have been a few apps that allow work with the service. On Android, I’ve found “Voip.ms SMS” for free in the Google Play store. It does everything a basic SMS app does and solved the last hurdle in this setup.

    • Victoria says:

      Have you by any chance found a counterpart for iOS?
      I have been going crazy trying to find a good client for my iPhone 6 to use voip.ms with and get SMS :(

  81. Lisa says:

    1. Sign up for Chatr Mobile unlimited province-wide for $25.
    2. Download FreeTone and make Canada-wide and US unlimited calls from WiFi to any phone number. No fuss, hardly any set up. Just provide your email.
    3. Talk all day.

  82. Eric says:

    Great article.

    I saw you wrote that tethering works just fine with this setup. However, a quick look at the Flex Plan on Bell.ca reveals that tethering is no longer permitted.

    Are you, nonetheless, still able to tether with this plan? If so, how?

    Anyone have any thoughts?

    Thanks!

  83. Victoria says:

    Hey Dan,
    Thank you for this – I’ve read everyone’s comments. I’m on an iphone 6 with voip.ms but I’m having trouble finding a client that will run in the background for both calls & texts. I don’t have google voice so I can’t follow your set up. Are you still doing the same or have you found other solutions?
    I text more than i call so I may have to bail on voip.ms if I can’t get texting to work. Their wiki is soooo outdated it refers to 2013 and I’d hope they have solved the email SMS only issue since then.

    hoping you have some advice!

    • Matias says:

      Acrobits Softphone or Groundwire. They have a server than can forward a SIP call with a push notification. With iOS 10 coming, backgrounding for VoIP apps is deprecated so push will be the way to go. Or port your number to Fongo…

  84. toffee says:

    I used Telus tablet flex plan for almost 3 years on my ipad until i figured out to try using it on another device. Unfortunately, Telus somehow configures their simcards to be used only on tablets. It does works on phones but it automatically reconfigures to pay per use service. With less than 10 minutes of using the internet on my friend’s samsung phone (using my tablet flex plan simcard), I already exceed $50 worth of data. I checked my usage, it was less than 400mb.

  85. RJ says:

    Thx Dan!
    Using fongo on Bell network over LTE for a month now. Had one dropped call and way better connectivity than Wind . Great idea saving me money.
    Thx,
    RJ from Calgary

  86. Don says:

    Thanks Dan for giving me the courage to go data only!!!

    It rocks! Called my provider to switch to data only and they said no problem. I was’t on a contact with them, though :) So for $15/mo now I have unlimited calling and texting (+$1.99 for unlimited texting) with Fongo and the rest of data for surfing the web.

    Data only the way to go!

    Don from Vancouver

  87. Love this. Happy to see momentum around #dataonly continuing to grow.

    I started Charge (https://charge.co) to build a carrier that would be data-only friendly.

    Would love feedback on the concept and would be happy to take any and all suggestions.

  88. Roman says:

    Called Bell. They said they will not activate a card and will only do it with tablet present. Said they need it tied to an IEMI number. It sounds like they are trying to make it hard to go data only.

    • Benoît LeBlanc says:

      Go in a store, you’ll find a clerk that has no problem with that. Downtown ste.cath in Mtl have always been cool.

    • Jason says:

      That’s funny when I called Bell (quite some time ago) to activate my SIM the guy I spoke with figured out what I was doing and laughed but didn’t care and completed the activation.
      My understanding is that they only have a real problem if you’re paying for a phone on a plan and try to do this, because that’s where they make their money back. But on a paid-for phone, generally they don’t care – give them another shot.

    • Paul says:

      Your experience will always vary depending on the rep you speak to.

      I set myself up on data only with a phone in June 2015 after reading Dan Misener’s post, and fast forward to May 2017 I am still using it.

      When I activated my nano SIM in 2015 I just told the Bell rep I had ordered a tablet online so I don’t know the IMEI, and it is arriving shortly so I want everything ready to go when it arrives. It was activated, and from there I just had to plugin the correct APN settings for Bell and that was it – worked like a charm.

      Current configuration:

      Phone: Android
      VoIP client: Acrobits Softphone
      DID: voip.ms

  89. Stephanie says:

    We are a family of 4. 3 of us have smart phones and paying more than $60 each month to Bell for each phone. Now my daughter wants a phone too. I took out the data sim from my iPad and gave it to her. I paid $10 (used to be $5)for sharing our 6 GB data, she used iMessage for texting, and an app called Whisso (whisso.com) for calling and receiving calls, she forwarded her phone to the whisso app and received and called out from there. Instead of paying $60 for her, this way, I paid only $13 ($10 for sharing and $3 for forwarding). She can also text through Whisso too, but only to Whisso user. But I saved a lot from this data SIM concept. It’s been a year now, and I might switch my phone to that concept too if I’m allowed.

  90. Sam Graham says:

    Hi,
    I’m visiting Canada next month (August)I would like to get the 30 day prepaid 5GB Bell Sim activated, can’t find any links on Bell.ca (all links go to page selling monthly plan which has extra charges after 5GB used, I just want it to stop working when used up) to this plan, would appreciate advice on how to do it,preferrably online, otherwise a toll free number, when I arrive there. I already have 2 Bell SIM’s, also will they accept payment ($35/30day?)using a foreign VISA card (Australian)?
    Thanks for any info provided.
    Sam

  91. david wong says:

    I am using speakout sim for the pay as you go type of service, since I can get free incoming text message and caller id, I usually just pick up my office phone and call back. most of the time I am in the office. therefore this sim is for emergency use.
    on the average I only use $3-4/month out of my credit.
    I have been using this speakout sim for 4 yrs. and every yr I refill $25 to get it going.
    Right now I think of using a data only sim for HERE map, email, whatsapp etc.
    I try to find a dual sim phone that I hope it can receive the call from speakout sim and text message and I use my data sim to reply or search in the internet.
    is there any reasonable price dual sim phone can handle all this. I heard someone said if the dual sim phone is active one is better.
    thanks.

  92. Jason says:

    I just walked into a bell store and asked for 2 SIM cards for my kids iPads, signed up for the tiered data plan and went home and plugged them into our old unlocked iPhones and viola. Easy. No hassle. Incredibly economic way to have a connection to your children via iMessage or FaceTime audio and it was perfect time for them to leverage their iPhones for Pokemon go :). Thanks for this article.

  93. George says:

    What’s the ability to do this on iPhone 6plus now?

    I am running ringcentotal.ca now for my voip / business.

    Rocket hub it? Or?

  94. Public Mobile is the choice. They have no-voice, no-text services and run on Telus infrastructure.

    https://www.publicmobile.ca

  95. Mark says:

    Thanks for your page. I have recently ported my phone number to voip.ms. I had an old tablet that could take a sim card, so I went to the fido store, and asked for a Tablet plan. They gave me a free universal SIM card, and set me up on their flex data plan $15/1Gb,$25/3GB,$35/5GB. I have a samsung galaxy S6 phone, so after I moved the sim card into the phone, and then purchased the Bria softphone app for phone calls (using voip.ms), and voip.ms now supports SMS, so I have voip.ms texting app for texting. The solution works great. Actually the voice quality is often much better then it was before. Anyways I’m happy, most months I use 2-3GB of data, so my phone/data bill is down to about $27 / month from $90 / month before ($25 for the data plus about $2 for my voip.ms bill, I don’t do a lot of phone talking). Another nice feature is that I was able to configure a SIP phone in my house to also connect to my voip.ms account, so now when someone calls my cell phone number, it also rings a real phone in my house. I could cancel my land line too with this solution! Thanks for the inspiration.

    • R#G says:

      I did the same, went to the demarcation point in the house, snapped a photo for my records unhooked the two phone wires from the panel so im disconnected formt eh street, cure a phone cord in half, wired the patch panel for the house jacks and plugged it right back into the voip box, got to ports, so basement tenant also has a voip line now too, ditched overpriced home phone all together. Love having my house phone and mobile the same number now I can answer a call and not kill my battery while im at home.

  96. Jenny says:

    Not sure, Jeff. I opted for the Flex Plan, which didn’t require any on-device setup.

    http://bestringtones.net/samsung-ringtones-free-download.html

  97. Andy says:

    Check it out! Fido now has a tablet plan $15 for 3GB data, $10 for each additional 1GB data. promotion end Sept 30.

    • George says:

      i am on it…. suggest you get 2 of them :p

      works just well. dont forget to turn the settings in imessage to not send as text. and move the text/phone apps to a 2nd screen where you wont use it…

      already forgot once for messaging a friend and the damn phone called out normal when it clicked a link already.

      but so far its good. got my voice / text running on ring central

      • George says:

        Update. October till now April (6 months)and not much for issues.

        iPhone 6plus running a fido Tablet plan off my mothers month to month and running $15/month plus $10/ GB over if that happens. Just the bad part is you need to be running off someone’s main plan on tablet plan.

        Running voip/text on RingCentral (due to office environment).

        Only ran over the 3GB once for an extra $10. No big deal.

        Could use line2 or textnow.

        For pics as RC does not do MMS I am using WhatsApp or just emailing them.

        Really in all seems ok. Just you need to remember not to dial out on your phone (move the phone app and don’t click the links). SMS not used only iMessage and in settings change it so it doesn’t send as SMS.

        Works so far wherever I want to go in BC no zones so can be Canada wide. Used mostly lower mainland/ up to Kamloops / Kelowna and the Island so far.

        For the US will get a Freedompop hub and run off that if I go down. So far been running wifi only at Denny’s and the Belfair mall.

        That leads me to the next step alternative which would be to grab a rockethub and running off that which would mean everything is wifi from the Hub. And mount that in the car or put it in the sack with a large batt pack if I take the bus, and take it with me whenever I go out other than in the house / office which has wifi already.

        Ran into a couple issues with text on RC ie when I wanted to text the transit cops it wouldn’t do it so had to do a fast enable of SMS and start the text up to report some idiot that assaulted a woman on the 351. Sure could have called but that would alert the guy and worse i wouldn’t have had the ability to video the guy to get his pic!

        • Matias Garcia says:

          Hey George, nice work reporting the assault. Can’t believe the audacity of some folks.

          I use Public Mobile now and buy 6GB every 90 days for $75 using auto-renewal. If I punch a phone number by accident and use the system dialer, I get a message saying, “You don’t have a voice plan!” and it doesn’t cost me a thing. Emergency SMS might work without a plan, not sure, but regular messages definitely don’t (you get the same friendly reminder).

          That said, I love using Siri + Groundwire or Fongo or (the BEST for quality) FaceTime Audio to make calls in the car! It’s awesome. “Hey Siri, using FaceTime Audio call so-and-so.”

          Welcome to the future!

          • George says:

            Ya think that would be way to go if I didn’t have my mothers main account to bum off.

            Still hard to beat $15 for 3GB and $10 each GB after.

    • Simeon says:

      What are the terms on this? Is it monthly or a 2 year contract? Do you get charged more when you leave the immediate coverage area? Do you get LTE?

      • George says:

        month to month on a tablet plan. it is no zone LTE Canada Wide. i just added it to my mothers month to month plan.

        really 3GB isn’t enough but at $15 to start at 3GB it isn’t bad. $10 each gb more means 4GB is $25 and 5GB is $35… so really you only save $5 if you go 5GB and above. but it is a huge savings for those doing 1-4GB

        normally you get 5GB for $40 on tablet plan after jumping from $20 for 1GB so yes the savings is there for the smaller use people

        if I spent more time in the US the t-mob plan would be better.

        • Simeon says:

          Thanks George. I ended up switching my Rogers flex plan for this since for sure I’ll be using more than 1GB…I went into a Fido store and they didn’t charge me for the SIM or the switch.

          I’m curious about the T-Mobile plan you mentioned. What does it include?

          • George says:

            https://prepaid-phones.t-mobile.com/prepaid-internet

            Marquee Image
            Double your 4G LTE data without paying the price.

            Now at T-Mobile, you can get 2X the 4G LTE data at the same price on the Simple Choice plan.
            Coverage not available in some areas.
            Each prepaid tablet and hotspot plan includes

            Use your high speed data in Canada and Mexico like you do in the U.S., — at no extra charge. The freedom to buy a new device or bring your own compatible device Unlimited music streaming on our network – without burning through your 4G LTE data Coverage on T-Mobile’s Nationwide 4G LTE network Unlimited data while on our network with no overages or annual service contracts. Simply select how much high-speed data you need, starting with up to 2GB 4G LTE per month.

            ORDER NOW! CALL 1-877-464-8646
            Capable device required for 4G speeds.
            iPhoneStep 1
            Buy your device
            Other PhonesStep 2
            Get it in the mail
            Tablet HotSpotsStep 3
            Activate & pick your plan
            Pick the plan that’s right for you.
            Whether you want a monthly plan or you just need data for today, get the high-speed data you need, right when you need it with our Simple Choice North America plan.

            Always-connected monthly options

            Plans auto renew after 30 days

            20
            Up to 2GB 4G LTE data

            Most popular35
            Up to 6GB 4G LTE data

            50
            Up to 10GB 4G LTE data

            65
            Up to 14GB 4G LTE data

            80
            Up to 18GB 4G LTE data

            95
            Up to 22GB 4G LTE data

            ORDER NOW! CALL 1-877-464-8646

            Ready to start shopping? Check out our Tablets & Hotspots

          • George says:

            just remember…

            on a phkne… move the texting app / move the phone app

            change iphone imessage to NOT send as sms

            the t-Mob is good but its mainly for US use. or you will get cut off after 2-3 months like my father did.

            the T-Mob is auto roam to rogers / telus.

  98. Simeon says:

    For voip.ms subscribers using CSipSimple or any softphone app..I’m wondering what the call quality has been like for you.

    I haven’t found any real difference over LTE or WiFi. Calls seem to drop after a few minutes and it’s sometimes hard for the other caller to hear what I’m saying. Is there any way to improve this? Is it a codec issue, data issue, software issue, or other issue? I would like to use my setup (Fido data plan, Voip.ms softphone, Voip.ms SMS app, CSipSimple app) as a permanent solution but it’s hard to justify using it for important phone calls at the moment.

    • Benoît LeBlanc says:

      I’m also with voip.ms.

      On Android I would recommend Bria, and I’d say the g729 codec is a must have if you’re going to use it as your main phone.

      I used it on a one plus one for a year with correct results. But I’m on a iPhone 6s with Acrobits Groundwire now and I must say it’s the best and most reliable configuration I’ve seen, and the new CallKit integration really makes it the best.

      I see that acrobits also has an android softphone now, I suggest you give it a test run.

      • Simeon says:

        Thanks Benoît..that was very useful advice. I was wondering what a difference the g729 codec made..I may try Acrobits or Bria…just don’t want to pay a premium for essentially the same thing I’m getting right now.

        • Mark says:

          I found that using Bria made a big difference for me for call quality. Much lower latency on the calls. I find the call quality is much better than cell calls were. I did make sure to use the voip.ms server closest to me as well.

          • Simeon says:

            Thanks Mark. I may try them if CSipSimple drops too many of my calls. Voip.ms only supports three codecs. Did you end up buying the g729 codec or are you using PCMU 8khz and/or GSM?

  99. George says:

    i am using ring central for my voip.

    it does text / phone and fax.

    only using it as i have my office on it. $50/ mo for the main line (hard voip phone you put on your desk) and then $5/ line for the soft stuff. RC office gives you 2 lines (toll-free and a fax) and the rest you port over (the home / cell lines) having the cells, office, and the direct lines go to the one app or different devices or off the computer is awesome.

    • Simeon says:

      Thanks George for this and the T-Mobile deal info. I was wondering what I’ll do when I’m travelling in the States and this might be the way to go…or just some other short term solution..

      • George says:

        well the main thing is mainly used in the US. if you have an addy down there and all i would just go tmob tablet plan and roam it anywhere with no worries.

        so far gone 10 days in 1gb. voice is about 1mb a min maybe a tad more.

        so far no issues on fido only.

        • George says:

          new fido tablet plans…

          http://www.fido.ca/consumer/tablets

          still good for under 4GB on their last promo for $15 for 3GB plus the $10 to make 4GB but if you go above 4GB their new one is best.

          Flexible Data Plan for Tablets
          Flexible Data plan starting at $15 per month2 for up to 1 GB of data

          Your monthly charge will automatically adjust depending on your usage. An additional $10 per GB will be charged if your usage goes over 5 GB.

          Up to 1 GB. $15
          Up to 3 GB. $25
          Up to 5 GB. $35
          Additional data: $10 per 1GB

          Want more basic options? Add a Flexible Data plan, starting at $10 per month2 for up to 150 MB of data.

          Your monthly charge will automatically adjust depending on your usage. An additional $10 per GB will be charged if your usage goes over 5 GB.

        • Simeon says:

          What codec are you using for voice?

          • George says:

            no idea. its on the app.

            says HD voice… presume 711?

            the way I remember it back in the Cisco days is the following:

            711 is 64kbps
            726 is 32kbps
            728 is 16kbps
            729 is 8 kbps

            with LTE it can run 711 with no issues. with 3G 729 would be best bet.

            GSM is 4 to 16kbps for reference…
            it is all over the map.

            i used to always set my SPA8000 / spa122 to 711 which worked well.

            no clue what the polycom phone or what the phone apps are set to. but probably the polycom is 711 and the phone app probably 729.

  100. Simeon says:

    Ok, good to know..so 711 (pcmu 8khz on voip.ms) probably uses about 1 MB per minute like you wrote. Not great if you’re on the phone a lot but just fine for me since I really only use voice occasionally and want it for 911 access, voicemail and text.

    Pretty nice knowing I have 3GB LTE and voice/sms for around $20/month including tax.

    • George says:

      well the 3GB was $15/mo. 4GB was dor $25 and up to 5GB was $35.

      now its $15 for up to 1GB and $25 for up to 3 GB and $35 for up to 5GB

      no real difference if you go over the 4GB on that limited version I got but it is the same now when you hit up to 5GB for $35. and $10/GB anove the 5GB so again it helped the low use people.

      will have to check out the voip.ms
      but since i have so many line the RingCentral seems to do the job well.
      911 will probably go out at the $1/min or whatever huge expensive charge that fido is charging if you do normal phone on the tablet plan.

    • R#G says:

      If you buy the G729 codec for csipsimple or zoiper, etc,. you get about 2 minutes per megabytes, I think. 1GB = 1024MB = 2048minutes + 2GB of data for everythign else. I doubt minutes would be the major consumption on a plan like that unless you are a real social butterfly. I just tell everyone to text me, slowly trained everyone to just text me most of the time. I love saving data, and not having to respond to people asap lol. Highly recommend if you are android to check out
      My Data Manager Beta
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mobidia.android.mdm&hl=en
      It will monitor data usage and once you assign your plan, it will warn you if you dont use enough data, and it will warn you if you use too much and it provides daily quotas, if you go over or under it adjusts each day, it also tells you exactly what app used data when and how much, great for finding and stopping data hogs, and then forcing those apps to only update on wifi.

  101. Simeon says:

    Does anyone ever have problems answering calls using CSipSimple with Voip.ms or any other service? I’ve been getting calls and when I answer them I can’t hear the caller and they can’t hear me and I can’t even hang up.

    Do Bria or Acrobits ever have this problem?

    I’m using a Galaxy Note 5 with Marshmallow.

    • R#G says:

      I switched to Zoiper and bought the extra features and condecs, quite like the UI and the call quality/features. The one way audio you are experiencing is usually because of the network NAT it allows outgoing but not incoming so it prevents people from hosting webservers and things, one solution is to setup and ssh tunnel or vpn and forward all your voip traffic through the tunnel and out to your home network, I had to do this with one sim provider as they appeared to be blocking voip or had a very restrictive NAT. It adds a bit of latency but it fixes the problem, best if you can host your own or if you have a cheap vpn in a datacenter somewhere even a droplet on one of those cheap ocean servers they are like $5 and have locations all over north america, pick a datacenter closest to your physical location. Otherwise Try a sim provider that has a friendlier network. I opted to run my own SSH tunnel which adds the benefit of privacy on the go no mobile traffic or wifi at hotspots can be intercepted or hijacked by hackers since everything i do is protected in that tunnel, android also has apps like afwall+ which allows you to specific that only specific programs are forced over vpn, the same app is useless for preventing apps from communicating online at all if you don’t trust them or telling them they can only use wifi and not your precious data plan.

  102. Simeon says:

    I may have to get an iPhone for work and am wondering if anyone uses voip.ms with an iPhone and how they send/receive texts. I realize I could send other iPhone users messages through iMessage but I’d like to be able to use just one app for text messaging.

    • R#G says:

      There is an iPhone VoIP.MS SMS app in the itunes store, its been out a while but it was created long after all these posts. The other options are through email, which is great the email to text time is a few seconds longer but still got enough for a realtime conversation. Only problem is each conversation gets a hash, so you cant change the subject line. You can also only message people who’ve messaged you before. Otherwise you need to hope onto the webui https://sms.voip.ms I thankfully have no work limitations, and can use an android which seems to be where 90% of the support for voip.ms lies on android which now has 4 apps capable of doing SMS.
      https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/voip.ms-sms/id1037874743?mt=8

      The other option is installing a Dalvik Emulator to run Android Apps on iOS, majority of the apps on android for voip.ms use push notification through google cloud messaging server backend so you might have be limited to running the amazingly helpful VoIP.MS Console app, it lets you change and control almost everything on your account, the only downside is it polls for sms, at intervals, based on the time you set. However, you could use email to get push notification and respond and the console just to send outgoing, im not sure you will be able to get everything through one app. Also i think imessage only works for the phone number associated with the SIM card, not the voip number, so you will probably have tons of people trying to sms or call your tablet plan which is like 50cents a minutes or 25cents to SMS out. Sadly I think the only real contender for VoIP is Android OS at the moment. Best of luck to your buddy, wishing you all the best in 2017, I’m subscribed to the comments, so I’ll respond if you have any more questions and I am able to help. =].

    • Matias Garcia says:

      I just give people my TextNow number for texting as the web interface is a pain. I’ve been mulling over writing my own voip.ms texting app. I’ll put some time in and see if it’s achievable in a short time (day job with 4 kids and a running a charity on the side :P)

      • Bill says:

        (Cool, can’t believe how long / useful this thread has been going on.)

        @Matias’ comment to George minded me … @George, AFAIK all cells can make free 911 calls (if they’re compatible with the local towers) – no subscription, or even a sim card, needed. (Pull it out, worst case, I suppose.) I get George’s comment that zero happens if he tries, but Matias, I wonder if you would get the same message if it was 911 you called. [George, I take your point of calling / videoing at the same time = problematic. Especially if live streaming the video at the time.]

        As for voip.ms txting app – from what I’ve seen the API is pretty well documented. (Love their wiki.) play store has more than one app for voip.ms txt’ing – perhaps source code is available and you could harvest the line or two you need out of the code. Perhaps even make it into a gnusocial forwarding script.Receiving to a particular URL triggering a line of php, or something.

        • George says:

          Think there is some issue with iPhone.

          When doing a video when I would get a call my video would stop.

          And yes nextplus (text plus) seems way to go for texting and SMS for free heck even for voip it is cheap.

          for the US I am looking at Next Plus and or Freedom pop for wifi but no way do I want just LTE as I need 3G as well. Not enough LTE in northern Washington

        • George says:

          So now I have ditched Ring Central and running data only on tablet plan and voip.ms fully for the home office.

          Only issue now is how to do SMS / text properly. Still looks like it is only on portal webpage or it will forward to an existing cell (where you have no idea who sent the message on the forward) email option of the text is nice and only way to find who messaged you! But do I want to open the email up all the time? guess still have to use whatsapp.

          • Jason says:

            the voip.ms android SMS app works really well – it even now does multiple DIDs in real time which I use for personal vs office – very cool

          • Bill says:

            I am in that situation, myself. I can see 6 (bits of) solutions: (1) Train your senders to append a signature. [Family now knows to, non-family … how urgent is it to get back to them?]; (2) Train them to call not txt – even if only to let it ring twice and hang up; (3) There are a number of apps in the play store for voip.ms; (4) Play store SIP client able to send / receive txt?; (5) I do this for voice mail – I forward such received e-mail’s to my Rogers PayAsYouGo email2txt facility (send to @pcs.rogers.com IIRC) – I don’t read it there / on the phone, but I get to see who sent the message; presumably there is an equivalent with a SIP / XMPP / IRC / Jabber / other client?; (6) This should really be a very minor bit of code – on a computer, or even a apache2 / IIS instance on a computer, if you forward the sms e-mail to an URL, it could trigger a bit of PHP to relay an e-mail / TXT / XMPP / whatever that you’re able to receive? Google will probably find you a minor script, or quite close. GL&HF / HTHs!

          • George says:

            I had setup nextplus to do the text/ pics. But nobody would use it. I don’t really text much so running off reply to email is ok for me. But if I want to start one I am just have the webpage linked on the phone home page. Tried the voip.ms app and it wouldnt work so deleted it. Would think acrobits groundwire could do it all but it’s close no text.

            Not a big deal those who want to text I can just load up the email and check it. I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time on it.

            I had forwarded the text to nextplus and well it survived a bit. It lasted a week and I just gave up with only 1 or 2 people texting me.

    • I use voip.ms with Acrobits Groundwire on iOS. This app works great for voice calls and supports push notifications.

      What many people may not know is that there is a (somewhat hidden) chat message system built into the app, but its API is incompatible with the voip.ms’ API for SMS. To work around this, I wrote an npm package as a middle-layer and anyone tech-savy can run it on their server. It’s here: https://www.npmjs.com/package/smsglue

      Of course I have my own instance running which anyone can use if they want. It’s very new, but it’s working well thus far, and it’s so nice to finally have text messages again… just like the normies. ;-)

      https://smsglue.com

      • George says:

        Interesting. Good job and well done.

        Will have to seriously look at it. As soon as I reload the phone in the next few days. Major issues with 6plus right now.

        So far for my small amount of texting that I do I just have an icon to the SMSportal of VoIP.ms and use that whenever some moron uses regular text instead of WhatsApp.

        I like the Groundwire, but I went cheapo and used grandstream wave on the tablets. Haven’t looked to see if I could do text with wave yet on the iPhone.

    • Greg says:

      I used NextPlus on my iPhone for texting as I use voip.ms for phone with Zoiper. I text all iPhone owners I know with messenger and recently discovered that you can actually text others with apple messenger as they must just have an UN-anounced gateway. it works.. and it’s free. I used to have to use NextPlus to text a BlackBerry friend and now can use messenger with their phone number. not sure how/why it works and the messages get chunked. 1/2 .. 2/2 for the 160 characters…

  103. Dudelove says:

    There isn’t anything good for iOS. For android there are a couple apps that you could use, but iOS hasn’t got anything available presently.

    • George says:

      Doing just fine on acrobits Groundwire. Love the ability to record :)

      Been a year doing this now myself iPhone 6+ and voip.ms

      Fido tablet plan is perfect.

      Who wants a tablet in pocket when a 6+ is good enough!

      Moved from ringcentral to voip.ms due to price. (Company wouldn’t pay for it) Quality is good on voip.ms.

      I just use the reply on email to respond to texts. And when i want to send a text I just run the SMS portal but that is rare as most of the people i text have Whatsapp.

      So really I don’t see any problem with it on iPhone. And android I am using grandstream wave. Best of all worlds here!

  104. ms says:

    This original blog post and all the comments effectively served as a federated ‘how-to’ guide for me to take the plunge into a data-only plan (in Canada). Thanks to everyone who shared their experience and knowledge! I’ll detail a little of my own experience to help others who might be interested.

    Lucky for me, Fido offered an iPad Air 2 32Gb for $439 with the 3Gb at $15/month plan on Black Friday. I sold the iPad (for more than I paid for it!) because I just wanted the data. Though as of this post Fido brought back its 3Gb for $15/month with no strings attached, for those that might be interested. I ported my cell number from Videotron to VoiP.ms and had it cleared in less than a week. I virtually had no down time with calling functionality, but I had to wait about 12 hours for the SMS service to activate. Not a big deal for me since I mostly use Signal for messaging anyways. Since LG decided the G4 doesn’t need the native SIP client, I downloaded Zoiper and configured it with my VoiP.ms account. I tested both SIP and IAX2 protocols and both work well. It was a little overwhelming at first because I didn’t know anything about SIP/IAX2 and using it on a cell phone, but VoiP.ms has a really good wiki + FAQ section. As a side note, I played around with Fongo and found that to be a simple, all-in-one solution that I’ll probably use for free calling from time to time. I personally chose VoiP.ms because I like to tinker with things. I’d recommend Fongo to someone who wants a VoiP calling solution immediately without hassle–just remember to uncheck the “Use Low Bandwidth Codec” in the settings because people have mentioned to me that the sound isn’t clear on their end if you use Fongo with the default settings. It’ll cost more bandwidth, but who cares if you’ve got WiFi + a ton of data!

    I mostly use WiFi so my 3Gb data plan means that I have unlimited everything, in practice. This is massive value for my money since my previous plan (even on student discount) gave me 100 minutes during the day, unlimited minutes from 17:00-7:00, unlimited texting, caller ID, etc., 50Mb of data for $33/month. Compare that to my current setup with the 3Gb Fido flexible data plan + VoiP.ms, which gives me much more functionality and I can optimise how I use calling (through Signal) and WiFi, which costs an average of $20/month with no overage worries ever.

    Good luck!

  105. Brian says:

    I am in the process of working through this. Thank you so much for the idea, I don’t know why I had not thought of it before.

    I have a Google Voice number which I obtained several years ago. I believe this is much more difficult these days, as I just tried to obtain one for my son without success. I used an iPod as a wifi-only phone for several years, but decided more connectivity was needed.

    To make this work, I first tried Telus. I used a Mobile Internet Flex plan ([email protected]$45). Put sim card into an iPhone 6. Telus network charged me pay per use data rates (over $1 per meg). Stopped doing that.

    Next, signed up for a Telus Tablet plan ([email protected]$35). Same thing – put sim into iPhone, Telus network charged me pay per use data at ridiculous rates. Tried unsuccessfully going through support to get them to bypass, but the IMEI is tied to the iPhone so no success. Judging from conversations with multiple support people at Telus, there is no front door way around this.

    Just signed up for Virgin flex-data plan ([email protected]$20, [email protected]$40) today. So far so good – Virgin app is documenting data use correctly, and seems to be in line with the agreed plan. I asked the Virgin employee specifically if I could use the sim/plan in an iPhone, was told yes more than once.

    Virgin is also OK with hotspot, which I needed.

    Again, thanks for the idea, and thanks to all the commenters too.

  106. Kyle says:

    Re; Anveo and SMS, I’ve been using Dan’s setup since 2012 on the Telus flex plan and Anveo, first on a Galaxy S2, then a Lumia 1020, and now a Panasonic CM1. It was an utter failure on the 1020 because Windows Phone restricts how apps on the background can access the data radio, but works great on the two Android devices. SMS over SIP works great with CSIPSimple with only one non trivial drawback: when you send an SMS, the recipient only sees your phone number if they are on certain cell providers (eg SaskTel), regardless of who you’re with. If they aren’t on one of those networks, they see a long international number that corresponds to the SMS gateway that Anveo uses. And if they reply to it, they will incur expensive international texting costs and you won’t even get the message. So I usually have to rely to texts with a phone call, but that’s better than having someone send me an SMS and not ever receiving it. All in all though it works great and I have never looked back.

  107. Ed says:

    Well, as Pierre stated, I use fongo(app created for Dell) You get a Phone number Free, works well with data and wifi, for a phone service i get Koodo prapaid, 15 dollars monthly, text with photos canada and overseas, and I buy one giga of data for 30 dollars, wich last me 8 month, since i use it only for receiving or making quick calls when I am not at home, since i paid with my credict card my plan,koodo gives me 10 per cent off my payment, towar buying my data, by the time i need it, it cost me only 5 dollar sometimes(with my 10 percent off my plan)you must know that Fongo its a good app wich you can call to canada from anywhere in the world as long as you are conected to wifi or data.. there you have it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *