Free Phone Calls With Ooma?
Have you seen those TV commercials for an odd-sounding gadget called Ooma that promises to virtually eliminate your phone bill? Read on to see if this device lives up to the hype...
What is Ooma?
Ooma is a replacement for your traditional landline service, and it promises "crystal-clear U.S. calling for free with your high-speed Internet and regular home phone." But is that really true? Let's take a look at the particulars.
The Ooma Telo device currently sells for about $149 on Amazon. 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 U. S. free of charge. Ooma also comes with basic features like number-only Caller ID 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 does not charge a monthly fee. Instead, you pay once for the Ooma device, and pay only U.S. government taxes and fees monthly (about $3.50 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 and call-waiting feature; 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 $3.50. That's a lot cheaper than Vonage, Phone Power and other VoIP competitors which typically charge about $25 per month. In fairness, those competitors don't have the $149 upfront cost of the Telo device.
Ooma does provide emergency 911 service, and if you make international calls, they offer some of the best rates available anywhere. Ooma was named “best home phone service” by Consumer Reports magazine in 2011 and 2012. 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...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 29 Oct 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Phone Calls With Ooma? (Posted: 29 Oct 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved