How it works

Overview

Freedom Fone allows you to create two-way phone-based communication services to interact with any audience, in any language, at any time and without recourse to internet or other media. There are no geographical limitations to Freedom Fone - it can be used in any country with mobile network coverage.

Using Voice to Share Information

Freedom Fone is free and open source software that enables you to create and share audio content using Interactive Voice Response (IVR), voicemail and SMS. Audio content can be easily organised in multiple Voice Menus which callers can navigate using their phone keypad. You will be familiar with this kind of voice menu on automated helplines already: 

"Press 1 to change language, Press 2 to speak to a representative, Press 3 to record a message..." 

There are many innovative and creative ways to share information using voice menus and voicemail. Freedom Fone provides a simple, user-friendly interface that allows you to design, change and update your own interactive voice menus to:

  • Share relevant audio information with your callers. Audio information can take many forms, for example: short news items, mobile audio dramas or even a song! You might also want to replay a voice message left on the service by a member of your audience.
  • Crowdsource information by getting your audience to leave voice messages to share their experience, opinion or needs.

Recognising the importance of SMS we also make it easy for you to run simple polls and receive ordinary SMSs. This means you can:

  • Organise an informal poll, enabling your audience to vote on an issue via SMS.
  • Collect SMS messages from your audience - these might be subscription requests, updates about specific news events, alerts from the field..anything at all really!

Try out our online demo

Our Software

Freedom Fone is free and open source software that runs on Debian and Ubuntu Linux operating systems. For best performance, Freedom Fone should be installed on a dedicated computer.

To run the platform independent of the Internet, the computer must be connected to mobile phone networks via one or more GSM devices. Our software will work with the 1 SIM Mobigater or 4 SIM OfficeRoute. These devices are not manufactured by Freedom Fone and must be purchased separately. For more information, see GSM devices below.

Our platform can be connected to VoIP services via the Internet, but must be specifically configured for your VoIP provider. Read our Advocacy Guide & User manual for more information or contact us via the Forum if you need assistance.

Freedom Fone provides an installer in the form of a system replacement ISO that automates much of the setup, empowering non-technical users to independently set up a sophisticated telephony server in under 30 mins. ISOs for our versions can be downloaded for free from the Download page. Developers can manually download and install Freedom Fone from the code repository.

Once you're set up, a graphical user interface lets you navigate the system to upload audio content, organise your voice menus, create SMS polls, review caller data etc. 

What do I need to get started?

1. A desire to communicate
First and foremost you need assess who are your target audience. Do they have access to mobile phones/coverage? What other channels of information do they rely on? What languages do they speak? See the Creating Your Freedom Fone Service chapter in our User Guide. 

2. Freedom Fone software

Download Freedom Fone Download the latest version of the free software.
Freedom Fone logo Contact us, if you would like us to post you a DVD. Remember you can test drive Freedom Fone using our online demo.

3. A dedicated computer  
Freedom Fone is a system replacer and thus needs to be installed on a dedicated computer or spare partition. Minimum computer specifications are: 2GB RAM, 2GHz dual core processor, 80GB hard-drive, soundcard, ethernet port. Approximate costs $700.

4. GSM device/s
The number of GSM devices needed will depend on how many call in lines you require for your service. Freedom Fone works with the following GSM devices.

They can be used in combination with each other. Ensure your equipment is located where there is strong GSM signal:

GSM USB devices

Freedom Fone supports audio-enabled GSM modems listed here and provides legacy support for the single SIM Mobigater. We have tested the Huawei E173 and E1550 dongles.

Notes:

  • Huawei dongles are only supported from FFv2.S.4.
    Multiple Huawei dongles can be connected to Freedom Fone.
  • MobiGaters must be manually configured to work from FFv2.S.4
    Note some users have reported problems with audio overlap where 2 or more MobiGaters have been connected to a Freedom Fone server. For this reason we do not recommend multi-Mobigater configurations. Equipment known to cause this problem is listed here.
  • MobiGaters and Huawei dongles cannot be used together.


GSM SIP Gateways

  • 2N OfficeRoute - 4 SIM - recommended.
    Approximately 620 Euros from 2N TELEKOMUNIKACE a.s. in the Czeck Republic or their regional representatives.
    Use order number 505604Z to ensure you receive OfficeRoutes configured with the required licences for Freedom Fone ie licences that enable POP3, SMS and SNMP.
  • 2N VoiceBlue Lite - 4 SIM - this is a legacy device.

5. Live SIM card/s
Make sure your SIM cards have been activated. If they are pre-paid lines, add airtime and remove security PIN codes. You will need a SIM card for each call-in/call-back line.

We have had problems with DTMF detection by some SIM cards, certain handsets and in some cases entire networks in certain countries - this means that the caller's key selections are not recognised when they try to navigate your Voice Menus. Be prepared to have to try a few cards from the same Mobile Network Operator, or even have to try a different Mobile Network Operator altogether. Please share your experience via our Forum so we can aggregate information on this topic.
  
6. Microphone
Preferably use a good quality microphone for recording your audio files.

7. Audio recorder
Mini-disc recorder (or mp3 recorder) for collecting audio in the field.  

Other factors to consider:

  • Constant power supply
    Reliable power supply or a 24 hour back-up system is recommended to keep your service live and available for callers to access at their convenience. 
  • Human resources
    You will need a variety of skills to set up and maintain a successful Freedom Fone service. These include technical installation, setup and troubleshooting; market research or focus groups to help you decide what information to offer; scripting, recording and editing audio content; advertising your service to your target audience; evaluating your call data records and periodic monitoring and evaluation. While some of these skills may overlap or be required only once (eg. installation + setup) we recommend that you dedicate a small team (min 2 people) to successfully operate your Freedom Fone service. 
  • Advertising budget    
    Once you have created the relevant audio content for a static or regularly updated service – the call in service will need to be advertised and marketed to you target audience so that they are aware of how it works, what information you are making available and how to best utilise your serivce. 

Need assistance?

If you are interested in using Freedom Fone, we are available to answer questions, provide you with more information and to assist with virtual technical support. Support offered via the Forum is free. Other support will be by quotation.

We offer consultancy and support services such as onsite support and training workshops.

Please contact us for assistance or more information.