Dell Voice launched in Canada today, allowing iPhone owners to get a free phone number with both free incoming and outgoing Canada-wide calls to land lines and mobiles alike. The service comes complete with voicemail, caller ID, Call Waiting, and even 911 emergency calling. The VoIP app was built with Fongo, operating over a network called Fibernetics which seems well-entrenched across all of the major Canadian cities and a lot of the smaller ones. If you're calling someone outside of Canada, they have some pretty reasonable international rates. Dell Voice provides you with a local number, and when you receive a call, it pops up as a notification on your iPhone. The call is then routed over a data connection, be it 3G or Wi-Fi - a great situation if you're on a shoestring budget and all you have is an iPod touch. You can also port over an existing number for a one-time $25 fee.
Unfortunately, there aren't any utilities for handling text messaging, but seeing as we don't have access to Google Voice up here, I think we're happy to just have access to a free VoIP phone number. It would be great to see Dell Voice to expand to include Video Calling, at which point it would be properly competing with the recently-launched Rogers One Number. On that note, I'm really curious to hear how carriers will react to this service. I find this is a little more aggressive than Skype, since you don't have to pay to get a number for incoming calls. The little carriers, Wind Mobile and Mobilicity, are having a hard enough time attracting customers even with absurdly cheap plans, and I worry that something like Dell Voice would cut them out altogether. Of course, the dependability of the service is yet to be seen, and if it's not up to snuff, it might not be worth your while.
The one set-up that Dell suggests that I could see being helpful is creating a number for out of town, so if you have family elsewhere in the country, they could make local calls to you. Dell Voice apps are available for iOS and Android, with BlackBerry coming soon. There's also a PC app if you want to start taking calls on your computer. Head on over to the Dell Voice landing page for a closer look, or download directly from iTunes to get registered.