So I announced on my Facebook page that I was going to try Internet telephony, or VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol – basically, Internet Phone) for a bit, and that after viewing a few options like Skype (Computer only), MagicJack (computer needs to always be on), and Vonage (not much cheaper, I ran into Ooma.
I’ll admit, I like innovative products, and I like trailblazing new technologies. But more than that, I also like security and the ability to back out without a commitment when doing it . I bought the hardware at Costco (retail 179, Costco = $129), and the membership means that I can go up the street and return the unit. And the service is guaranteed for 30 days free too, so if it doesn’t work out (best case) or really sucks (worst case), I’m out nothing.
I like that.
So people ask, “what’s the catch?”. “What are the reasons to buy?”, they ask. I have a few.
1. My phone at home costs $65. It’s a dial tone that charges fees and line services and all that.
2. This costs under $4 a month (which ARE the taxes for a line), or $10. a month for a second line, call blocking, free port forwarding (for your old number), and a slew(!!) of other really neat features.
So right there, that’s about $55 a month I”m saving. If you shuck and jive a little, you might also get a whole year of service for $100. So that’s $8.33 a month. “But you have to buy the equipment“, says the pessimist. Right, that’s true. Shell out about $250, you tightwad. So in 4 months, you’ve recouped the investment, and pending any problems, you have 2 lines for about 8 bucks a month. I’ll save $540 a month, just in costs alone.
That’s assuming rates and taxes don’t go up. And we all know they do. So here is the link to check out what it costs in your state. This is for my zip code, so enter yours and check it out.
Yup, that’s your phone bill for the basic service.
That’s a win in my book!
If you DO decide to do the Premier package, you get a 60 day free trial of Premier for NO EXTRA CHARGE. Don’t do what I did and negotiate Premier – enjoy the free time and then when it gets close to the end of the trial, THEN negotiate for the “year for $100” deal. I kind of gypped myself out of 2 free months, but I also didn’t want to hassle remembering when to call and negotiate. I’m still going to save $220 this year, and $540 every year after. The Premier is a total of $10 a month (and they’ll include the taxes in that $10 total charge). I say: totally worth it!
So here are all the features you get with Premier – the $10 plan:
- Unlimited U.S. Calling
- Ooma PureVoice™ HD Technology
- 911 Service
- Inbound Caller-ID
- Outbound Caller Name
- Caller-ID Blocking
- Call Hold
- Call Return
- One-Touch Voicemail Access
- Remote Voicemail Retrieval
- Online Voicemail Playback
- Online Address Book
- Online Preferences
- Area Code Selection
- Easy Set-up
- 7/10-Digit Dialing
- Selectable Ring Pattern
- Fax Mode
- Landline Backup
- Worldwide Ooma-to-Ooma Calling
- High-performance QoS Firewall
- Live Customer Support
- Bandwidth Saving Mode
- Adaptive Packet Redundancy
- Encrypted Phone Calls
- Online Call Logs
Now, one note on the “Area Code Selection” option. I typed in my area code, which is 623. I was given about 10 pages of “480” numbers, which is about a half our away from my calling range. So I had to go to the LAST PAGE of numbers to choose from, and wah-lah, there were some 623 numbers. Just a little tip in case you want all your numbers for you to have the same area code. I thought that was a little sneaky, but that’s the only thing that’s ever made me question the service.
I don’t have a cable connection – I have a 3mbs DSL service. What’s nice about DSL is that it’s not neighborhood dependent in that if my neighbors are all online streaming YouTube, my speed doesn’t suffer. The bad part about DSL is that it’s slower than most internet connections, and while my YouTube still buffers anyway, this phone had NO struggle with a clear connection.
I did ask and you need a 768-kbps up-speed, which I have the bare minimum, and it has worked flawlessly for the first week I used it, and forward. I’ve even tried to jam up my line with downloads, and I’ve had no problems. You might have a problem if you’re on the phone and sending a 10MB file to someone, but how often is that? For me, a power user – STILL not often.
Call quality? Better than my old phone. People can hear me better, and the call quality is very good. It can be a little quieter if I had to nit-pick, but not to the point where it’s difficult to hear.
Faxing was the only feature that I haven’t been able to figure out, and NO VOIP GUARANTEES FAX. I’ve tried a few things with no avail, and I’m going to try some of the other features, like slowing down the transmission speeds and using *99 codes. The reason few VOIP phones can offer fax service is because the protocol for faxing is based around a fixed line with no data-packet drops. Landlines are extremely reliable for this – VOIP phones like Ooma are not, and they claim to be addressing it with new fax protocols like T.38. But for the time being, I would say if you’re a power fax user, this is NOT going to work unless you know someone who has the hardware that you have that got it to work.
I have an Epson Artisan 810, and no dice, brother.
I use my fax about once every 2 months, so I’ll go to the corner copy shop and pay if it must be faxed. But I would like to eventually get that feature.
There is 911 service, but that doesn’t mean that if you call, all your pertinent information is going to appear on a dispatcher’s screen, waiting to be shot to an officer. I don’t know much about it, so I’ll update it when I get more information.
Finally, my favorite features that I wasn’t really expecting or wanting, but that once I get used to, I’ll hate living without:
1. Voicemail forwarding. When I get a voicemail, it gets forwarded to my smartphone so I can listen to it. Since I don’t get a lot of Voicemail, I guess this is good – and you can always turn it off. But it’s nice to have it at my fingertips.
2. An extra phone number. I brought my phone number over to Ooma. It’s either $40.00 or free when you sign up for a year of Premier. (They really want that extra 4 bucks! Ha!) I don’t really need another number, but I can have two lines used at the same time (which does require a Ooma special phone) or just use my number like usual. I guess if I was dating, and someone blocked my number, I could use my other number and get through one more time. But since I don’t stalk, it’s not much use to me.
3. If someone dials 911, I get alerted on my phone. Good for when I’m on the road.
4. If my power goes out (or Internet connection, for that matter, since it is required), my calls are automatically forwarded to my cell phone. I also have the option where both phones ring at the same time, so if I’m on the way out of the house, I can answer the phone on the go.
5. Blacklisting. This is a COOL feature that you don’t get with your home phone service. Check it out. You can choose to have Ooma’s collected list of ding-dong ditchers and Workus Dayus Interruptusers, or build your own list – or both. And you can choose how each will be responded to.
I know some friends who could desperately use a blocking service to avoid the “Ex”. Make that jerk use his “cheater-phone’s” minutes to argue about when to pick up the kids, ladies.
Just today, I got the same “lower your credit interest” call that I’ve been getting for 3 years. Today, I’ve blacklisted the number it came from, and even had a place to write my own notes about why that number is dumped. Take a look at the options, and yes, I blacked out my number.
It is still the Internet, after all. So check out the options.
When someone you don’t like calls, do you want to send them directly to voicemail every time? You can do that.
Want them to know they’re blocked? You can do that.
Give them a notification that your number has been disconnected? Hahaha. Yup.
Or you can just let it ring forever and ever – great for demon-dialers.
Overall, I’m very satisfied with the value of this, and would recommend it highly.
Some people write these in hopes of getting others to join up for some referral bonus. There’s no bonus, and even if there was, the value is already there. I’m just sharing what I think is a good service.