Calling Canada from Japan (and vice-versa!)

Posted by in Mike's blog

We’ve been under pressure from our family to invest in a MagicJack setup for the past couple of years.  Nearly every member of our extended family uses MagicJack…so we should too, especially since we’re overseas, right?

Nope.  We got something better.

(note: This isn’t as much as an anti-magic jack as it is a pro-alternatives post.  The reasons we didn’t want MagicJack are, in brief: (1) Depsite the word “free” being listed on the front page of 26+ times, it costs $50 for a device and $20-$30 in annual fees – it took me a while to track down those costs too. (2) It has horrible reviews, and a class action lawsuit has been filed in NY. (3) Most of the time, I can’t call my mom on her MagicJack.)

We have been using a $3/month Skype subscription (unlimited Canada/US…doesn’t seem to be available for new users) for all of our calling needs since we moved.  It’s been wonderful, but it has a downside:  We didn’t have a phone that can ring or a phone number for people to dial.  There are some generations of people who tend to get deterred from calling when they can’t press buttons or spin dials on telephones.  Also, being able to leave a number for businesses to call us back is nice when we don’t want to wait on hold (when possible).

This week, we caved.  We got an ATA and set it up with an SIP service.  We’re using  From there, we signed up for an account (and got a Kitchener, Ontario phone number) and paid $50 for a “VOIP-unlock key” that gave us the information we needed to program the ATA.  Unfortunately, setting this up isn’t easy.  It took 2 people a few hours of searching and tweaking to make it work.

In English: We plugged a phone into a box.  The phone thinks it’s in Canada.  If you call it, it will ring.  We can also call you.  The phone number is +1 226-338-XXXX.

Now that our phone is functional, we can call these cities as much as we want (and we can use the phone + Skype to Go to call America or cities that aren’t on the list).

Call us sometime!  Use to find out what time it is in Fukui.

…and that’s the end of us paying anything to call Canada, ever.