International Toll-Free Telephone
October 22, 2012 7:54 AM   Subscribe

What is the best (least expensive) way to setup a toll-free international business line in Canada?

I'm interested in having a 1-800 toll-free telephone line for my small business in Canada.

It's possible to get one through the local telephone company, however it is quite expensive. A quick search online pulls up a lot of companies that offer this service (eg for very reasonable rates.

I'm wondering for those who have experience with this, what their recommendations are. Is it worthwhile to go with a 3rd party toll-free service, or are there problems with this? What is the best (least expensive) way to setup a toll-free international line in Canada?

Thanks (in advance) for your help.
posted by rabbitfufu to Work & Money (5 answers total)
The company I work for has a line through Rogers Business Solutions and it costs us very little. It is occasionally only pennies per month. Partly, this is because much of our business is done online rather than by phone, but the rates do seem very low.
posted by asnider at 8:34 AM on October 22, 2012

Sorry, I totally misread your question originally and didn't notice the "international" bit. Our line works within Canada and the US. I'm not sure if it is truly international.
posted by asnider at 8:57 AM on October 22, 2012

By my understanding of all this (we have a few international toll-free numbers):

North American 1-800 numbers aren't internationally toll-free. When you get one you can ask for a particular region or all of North America but that's it.

Outside North America you have two options: you can have a Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN), or you can get freephone numbers in the countries you want.

UIFNs work in 60 or so countries. The country code is 800, so they do look toll-free. I don't know how well-understood they are, ie if someone from the UK would know how to dial one without dialing it like a UK freephone number. Obviously the main advantage is that you only have to have one of them.

We chose to have numbers in the regions we want (UK and Ireland for now, Australia and New Zealand eventually) for a few reasons: first, we weren't prepared to handle calls from other countries for language and timezone reasons; and second, we wanted to be able to route the calls to different DIDs in our phone system so that we could track the countries separately.

We get our domestic and international numbers through Diallog, who were recommended to us by our phone system VAR. They've been great. They're clearly a very small shop, though, if that makes you uncomfortable.

If you want a big shop, Bell or Allstream can take care of it all too. (We ported ours from Bell to Diallog.)

Regardless of who bills you, though, the UIFNs and international toll-free numbers are actually provisioned in the source countries, so Diallog or Bell or whoever on this side of the pond is just coordinating for you (and like domestic TF numbers, they have to terminate at an existing DID, and sometimes they have to terminate at an existing domestic TF number, which if you find yourself having to do I recommend only using to terminate international freephone numbers -- ie, if you have a NA TF number for customers, don't terminate your UK freephone number to it, get another NA TF number, it'll give you more options to move things around and to port to different TF providers down the road).
posted by mendel at 8:37 PM on October 23, 2012

(By the way, I don't want to share rates, but our Diallog rates are very competitive, and our Bell ones were not. International toll-free numbers are expensive in comparison to domestic, though, partly because you're paying for multiple organizations to route your call, and partly because of supply and demand.)
posted by mendel at 8:39 PM on October 23, 2012

Apologies for yet another answer in a row, but I should point out that companies like Diallog offer the service that Bell or Allstream does: a toll-free number which, when called, gets routed to your local number. Reading over Callture's website it looks like they add a bunch of stuff on top which makes me think they're using the call forwarding feature of their own phone system, and they in turn deal with another company to get the numbers.

The advantage of having your toll-free numbers terminate at your existing DID is that the whole thing works without the company that arranges it being involved; I suspect that if Callture's system was down then your toll-free number would be too.
posted by mendel at 8:43 PM on October 23, 2012

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