I’ve written about the great Toktumi/Line2 (I wish they’d settle on one brand name, really) VOIP service before. It’s a cost-effective, easy-to-use way to make long distance phone calls from your mobile device.
You sign up, get either a toll-free or local number in Canada or the US, pay a flat monthly fee ($10 for a local number, $15 for a toll-free number) and then you can make calls within North America at no additional cost.
I’ve subscribed to it for a while now instead of subscribing to a long distance plan with Bell. However, I’ve never adopted it for general use. I’ve never shared my Toktumi/Line2 number with friends, family, or business colleagues.
Two things prevent me from doing this:
- text messaging is not supported with Canadian numbers, and
- your phone number is not displayed accurately on call display systems outside of the US.
Both of these shortcomings unfortunately make Toktumi/Line2 unacceptable for general use anywhere outside of the US.
Call display is a telephone owner’s single-most valuable defense against telemarketers. Most of us depend on it to identify who’s calling us, and then use that as our primary decision-making factor in whether to answer the call or not.
There’s an unwritten rule that we all seem to subscribe to: Do Not Answer Unrecognized International Calls.
Why not? Because 9 times out of 10, it’s a telemarketer.
For example, as I wrote this, a call came in one my iPhone. It looked like this:
Would you answer that call? No, me neither. So I didn’t.
Unfortunately, Toktumi/Line2’s numbers only represent themselves accurately on call display within the US, and only when you’re using a US-based phone number.
If you subscribe to a Canadian number with Toktumi/Line2, your number will be displayed on the device of the person you’re calling as an international call, even if you’re calling locally.
For example, say you subscribe to the Vancouver number 604 800 3719 with Toktumi/Line2, when you call someone it will display to them like this:
Would you answer that call? No, me neither. And that’s my own Toktumi/Line2 number.
If you take a few moments to “parse that string”, that is, break it down into its separate parts, you might recognize the Vancouver area code. But nobody does that. Most of us would see the “+64” and instantly dismiss the number as illegitimate.
That’s a huge drawback to using the Toktumi/Line2 service in Canada: when you call people, it’s likely you’ll be perceived as a telemarketer and your call will be ignored. It’s happened to me on many occasions, in fact.
One other major drawback to your number being displayed incorrectly? People can’t call you back. If they do, they end up making a long distance call to a foreign operator who informs them that the number they’re calling is invalid.
Simply put, Toktumi/Line2 only supports text messaging on US-based numbers within the US.
You can’t text to or from a toll-free numbers, and you can’t text to or from a Canadian number.
That’s a huge drop in value if you’re outside of the US.
For folks in the US, Toktumi/Line2 holds tremendous value and utility. You can call and text all you want around that country for next to nothing (you can make calls to Canada at no additional charge, too). It’s a sweet deal.
Unfortunately, the service for us folks outside of the US is less enticing. You can’t text, and your phone number is misrepresented to the recipients of your calls.
That said, it’s still a great cut-rate long distance telephone service. If the people you’re calling are willing to risk answering a call from an unrecognized international number. And that’s a big if.