Free Home Phone Service With Ooma?

Category: Telephony

Have you seen those TV commercials for an odd-sounding gadget called Ooma that promises to replace your landline, virtually eliminate your phone bill, and give you crystal clear voice quality? Read on to see if this home phone device lives up to the hype...

What is Ooma?

You may remember that I've written about the impending demise of landline telephone service. With that in mind, you might consider Ooma, a replacement for your traditional landline service, which promises "crystal-clear U.S. calling for free with your high-speed Internet." But is that really true? Let's take a look at the particulars.

The Ooma Telo device currently sells for about $99. It’s dead simple to set up. Just plug the device into a port on your home internet router (or directly into your cable or DSL modem). Plug a regular phone into the phone jack on the Telo. Ooma is a "VoIP" service, which means your phone calls will travel over the Internet, rather than the public landline telephone wires. So you will need a reliable high-speed Internet connection to use the service.

Go to Ooma’s Web site to set up your account and get your Ooma telephone number. You’ll have to provide your name, street address for E911 purposes, and a credit card number for billing. You can now call any number in the USA free of charge. Ooma also comes with basic features like Caller ID, Call Waiting, and voicemail. There is also a mobile app for iOS and Android devices that lets you use your Ooma account over WiFi or mobile data services.

Ooma Telo - Free Phone Calls

Ooma does not charge a monthly fee. Instead, you pay once for the Ooma device, and pay only U.S. government taxes and fees monthly (less than $5 in most areas). This covers the Federal universal service charges, 911 service fee, state and local taxes, surcharges and regulatory and compliance fees.

It’s possible to get Ooma dialtone on all of the phone jacks throughout your home. Doing so requires disconnecting your home wiring from the phone company’s network, but Ooma tech support can walk you through that or you can hire a contractor to do it. Note that if you receive DSL Internet service, you will have to get the phone company to provide it over a “dry wire” that carries DSL only and connects only to your router, not the house wiring.

Cheap, But Not Quite Free

In addition to the one-time cost of the Ooma Telo device, there are a few other things that you may need to pay for with Ooma service. There are optional Ooma Telo accessories such as a WiFi adapter, Bluetooth adapter, and Telo handsets. In most cases, you can port an existing number to Ooma for a one-time fee of $39.95. International calls can be made a la carte, i. e., 1.4 cents per minute to Canada; or you can pay $9.99 per month for 1,000 international minutes to call over 60 countries. At just one cent per minute, you probably won't find a better deal on international calling.

An Ooma Premier account costs an additional $9.99 per month or $119.99 per year. It includes a second line, call blocking, three-way conferencing; multi-ringing or call-forwarding to multiple other phone numbers; Google Voice extensions; and free calling to Canada. The annual fee option includes one free number porting (normally $39.95). The Premier plan’s enhanced voicemail includes voicemail-to-text, Caller ID, number-blocking, and other handy features.

So while it's not exactly true that Ooma offers 100% free calling, once you purchase the Ooma Telo device, you can get away pretty darn cheap. If your calls are all within the USA, and you don't need any of the optional features mentioned above, your monthly cost drops to around $5. That's a lot cheaper than Vonage and other VoIP competitors which typically charge about $25 per month. In fairness, those competitors don't have the $99 upfront cost of the Telo device, but that washes out after a few months.

Ooma does provide emergency 911 service, and if you make international calls, they offer some of the best rates available anywhere. Ooma has been named “best home phone service” by Consumer Reports for several years. That’s based on reported overall customer satisfaction. It’s certainly a top-tier option for home VoIP service.

Have you tried Ooma or some other VoIP service as a replacement for your home phone service? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Free Home Phone Service With Ooma?"

(See all 23 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

24 Jun 2022

I too was a ten plus year Ooma user until early last year, when I got tired of the monthly tax continuing to go up- over $5 per month when I cancelled. I switched to Google Voice using a $50 box from amazon. Now I have NO bills or costs, and it has features no one including Ooma has even dreamed of. Faxing works fine, and I get my calls automatically routed to my cell number, if I'm not home. The last International call I made cost a penny per minute. I could not be happier with Google Voice.

Posted by:

Ryan James
24 Jun 2022

I live in Ecuador. I know a number of expats use this or similar services, but all I need for speaking with family and friends in the US is WhatsApp, Facebook Chat and Skype. None of these have a fee.

For all of those pesky needs to get a security code from the bank or credit card companies, I use iPlum. It too has lots of bells and whistles, but I only use the basic plan. It allows me to get and make voice calls as well as text messages.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2022

Don't forget that no VOIP service works if you don't have power or your ISP is down. The reason I keep my traditional central office AT&T landline is that it works in emergencies even when there is no power (the power comes over the copper phone lines).

But unless you care about that, VOIP works fine.

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
24 Jun 2022

Ooma sounds fairly good. My only question is, if there are about $5.00/month (~$60.00/year) taxes/fees associated with it, why would I switch from MagicJack which costs me ~$40.00/year (~$20.00/year less)?

The only service I have seen in these response posts that may be better is Google Voice, because it's free ($0.00/year). I'm retired, so my phone calling needs are very modest. Free calls to the 48 US States more than meets my needs. Since my MagicJack account will come due in December, I'll have to look into it (Google Voice). If there are no hidden gotchas, I'll probably be making yet another change, even though it will save me only about $3.33/month. My final decision will probably depend on the cost of Google Voice-compatible hardware and the effort involved in making the change. In other words, how long will it take for the $40.00/year savings from leaving MagicJack to offset the cost of the new hardware and the time/effort required to make the change?

I suppose I'll see,


Posted by:

Paul Iacono
24 Jun 2022

I also have Ooma and so far all is well.
I wanted Google voice but they don't offer it anymore. Does anyone know why? what happened?

Posted by:

Bob K
24 Jun 2022


With Ooma, if you get their optional cellular adapter, it will switch in automatically if your internet connection goes down. I think I pair $30 for the adapter, and it adds $4.99 a month to your charges.

Posted by:

Paul Breaux
24 Jun 2022

I bought Ooma a few years back, and I also had the Premium plan. The online site I had with Ooma was nice, and that is where your Call Logs is at. I have very high Internet with COX, and my home phone is Caption Call from the F.C.C. for the hearing impaired, but there is no cost for the phone. Pairing the Caption Call and Ooma with my router was okay. But Ooma always had various glitches with it. One was if the electricity blinked for a second, you were cut off service, and the light atop the base unit, would blink constantly until the service was back and running, which took between 5 and 10 minutes, ALWAYS. Asked them if the unit was not defective, they said they ran testing on it, and it was okay. But it wasn't. My phone has built in answering system, but Ooma automatically turned on Voice Mail with their service, which hijacked any voice messages to my phone. There was other errors present, so finally I dropped them, and put the base unit in a drawer. Caption Call, because it's with the F.C.C., always has a Tech visit if there is a problem. When I dropped Ooma, they paired my Cell Phone and my Caption Call, by Bluetooth, and installed a small XLink BT box, as the Bluetooth connector. Thus my Cell number is now the number to call, and if I'm at home, when the cell rings, so does my Caption Call also ring, letting me answer with it. The one drawback, is Caller ID, with using Xlink BT. If a caller is NOT LISTED in my Cell's Contact list, using XLink BT only allows the number calling to be shown, not the name of the caller. They said XLink BT is trying to make it a better service for caller ID, but it hasn't yet. But the cost of it? $0.00, so it's free. So, maybe my Ooma experience was a mistake, but I'm glad I no longer have to pay for their poor service.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2022

I gave up on Ooma after some problems and switched to Majic Jack several years ago. It works great, but based on the comments, I may switch to Google Voice.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2022

Because COMCAST has achieved pretty good uptime in my area - I am considering a switch to Internet phon service from my high quality, even more reliable, but expensive landline. This article and the posts are really timely!
While free Google Voice sounds good, it may be buyer beware - Google is slipping in charges:
If I can send faxes using Ooma -its a done deal!

Posted by:

24 Jun 2022

I've been using Magic Jack for years. I think first year was $45 which included the "device" (connects to router port and handset). For a 3 year term (the best deal) it's now $109 - which comes to about $3.03 / month. Add in $15/yr for 911 - so a little over $4 per month. Comes with the normal caller ID, call waiting, voice mail.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2022

I've been using Ooma Office for years and can't imagine a better phone system or phone company. Haven't tried their home service yet, but I can highly recommend the company.

Posted by:

24 Jun 2022

Is there anyone in Toronto, Canada who can help me set Ooma or Google voice up? I am Senior and not that savvy in this area but want to save on phone service.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2022

Have been using VOIP for many years on recommendation of a relative who was a founding father of VOIP. Totally free here in Australia via my internet provider. Just had to change modem/router.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2022

I'm happy with MagicJack. Presently 49 bucks a year which includes the dongle device (supplied the first year and works as long as you subscribe). There are reduced rates for longer access periods.An extra fee is due for Int'l access.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2022

Happy with Magic Jack. Used it for years.

Posted by:

Ron D
25 Jun 2022

I have a somewhat unique problem with my phone service. I presently have a ATT land-line. We have relatives in the UK. British Telecom offers (for seniors) free long-distance calling to the US. This is of great service to our relatives, however, my land-line cost over $600 a year. I tried Magic-Jack a few years back but discovered that end-coming UK calls would not connect and had to abandon the Magic-Jack service and return to ATT. I am tempted to try some other service such as Google Voice or Ooma. Has anyone shared this problem?

Posted by:

25 Jun 2022

Have had Ooma for more than 4 years. I have saved over $4000 CDN vs. Bell Canada at over $60 per month and their LONG DISTANCE charges. I have the premium service. Well worth it given second line, voice mail, caller-id, blocking and other included features especially in terms of LONG DISTANCE free in Canada and to the USA! The service works well and is reliable. If you must have a "landline" this is the service to seriously consider!"

Posted by:

28 Jun 2022

I am a satisfied Ooma user and have been with Ooma for many years. One of the advantages of this kind of service is that your phone and number is not tied to a particular Internet provider. Switching providers is achieved with a minimum of disruption and headaches.

Posted by:

08 Jul 2022

Thank you BobRanking for all that you do for us...
Odd that no one volunteered to give a thumbs-up for Vonage VoIP phone 'system'. We had gone with Vonage few decades ago, when Ooma device just could not work on our dilapidated Telco lines (jitter issue), that were also used for old modems.
We pay a total of $11.99/mo without any hardware or connection problems, disruptions. We use nomorobo for spam and use a wireless phone system (w/answering machines) in the house and Vonage allows transferring gVoice calls, as well.
The only downside with VoIP (Ooma/Vonage/etc.) is that they do not seem to provide texting capabilities (...which Vonage has promised for over a decade).

Posted by:

mark smith
18 Jul 2022

I have been using OOMA for a decade and I am happy with it. I have it connected to the same UPS my modem and router are connected to. I have it connected to a cordless set that also has Bluetooth, so I can connect my cell to it. This way I don't carry the cell around with me.

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