Get FREE telephone service for life using the Ooma device!
Yesterday, I received my Ooma Hub & Scout. After just a few hours using it, I am convinced!
Ooma is a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) device that you pay for one time and it provides you with totally free telephone service with NO MONTHLY FEES for life!!! The device retails for $250 (both hub and an extension device called a “scout”).
VOIP operates by using your broadband internet connection (E.G., DSL or Cable) to connect you to the telephone networks. I have used several such technologies but all were either restricted in some way or another. The following table was researched online and may contain some slight errors. If you find any such errors, please report them in the comments.
|US Long Distance||free||free||$3/month||free|
|Use Std Phones||yes||yes||no||yes|
|Local Phone #||yes||yes||no||yes|
Comparisons: As you can see, the Skype service is the cheapest but has some very severe limitations (such as ONLY working through a computer). MagicJack is also pretty inexpensive but, again, requires that you have a Windows-based computer online all the time that the phone is available. Vonage & Ooma both operate without a connected computer and allow you to use standard phones. However, both have expenses: Vonage has no upfront expense. Instead, they charge $24.99 for each month of usage. Ooma has a fairly stiff upfront cost but no monthly charges after that.
Costs: Vonage advertises that they will save you over $300 a year compared to the normal telephone charges. I am not certain how they come by that figure. In my case, I will drop my AT&T landline with a monthly savings of $40 (or $480 per year). That would mean that I would save about $180 each year that I use Vonage. However, with Ooma, I will save $230 the first year and $480 each year after that. Actually, the savings will be greater than that since the charges typically go UP every year.
There are some limitations to ALL VOIP services.
- You must maintain a broadband Internet connection (either DSL or Cable) but who doesn’t have that anyway?
- During a power outage, the service will not be available. But most of us use cordless phones which also stop working when the power goes off. And, over 95% of Americans each have a cell phone. So we are NEVER without a phone connection anyway. (Well, except after Hurricane Katrina when even our cell phones were not working. But that is another story.)
With Ooma, you have another “negative” to consider. The business model of the company does not guarantee that they will be able to survive over time. And, if the company every goes “belly up” then my Ooma device probably will become totally useless. But the reality of the matter is that the company only needs to stay in business for five months for me to recoup the equipment cost! And, if they last any longer than that (an almost ABSOLUTE certainty), then I will have made a very good financial decision.
The call quality on Ooma is on a par with any other telephone system that I have used. I have used the AT&T wired line, MagicJack & one other dedicated VOIP service and the call quality on each is pretty much the same. I also have AT&T Wireless “service” and, what can I say? The quality of Ooma calls is INFINITELY better! (Well, maybe not “infinitely” better but anyone who has used AT&T Wireless should understand what I mean.)
The Ooma system is not difficult to set up. A technically literate individual should have the basic system working in about 30 minutes. However, there are some configurations & options that may require a bit longer to read about, understand and make a choice.
The “Scout” device is used to extend the system to a second location. To utilize the full potential of the Ooma device, you would need to place it next to a standard telephone handset and use a scout at every location where you wanted an extension. (One Scout device is included with the Ooma hub but additional Scouts are about $60 each.) This allows you to control the voicemail functions on the front of the hub or scout and switch between two lines (a function that requires an additional $100 per year subscription but includes several other options as well.) In my case, I have all the phone lines in my home attached to the single “Phone” outlet (just wired all of the lines, red-to-red & green-to-green). That way, I do not need the scout even though I can have several phone extensions all sharing the same line.
Bottom Line: for standard phone services (most common “features” are included), this is an EXCELLENT deal. And I recommend it highly. If you want/need two lines and some really cool features (say, like the abiltity to ring both your home and your cell phone every time someone calls your Ooma number), then maybe you should give up another $100 per year for the “Premium” service. I think that is exactly what I will do. They give you two months of the Premium service free and then you decide if you want to keep it or not. BTW, you usually can port your existing wired phone number to the Ooma for an additional $40 but this service is included in the first year’s Premium subscription.
Update, day 4: I have been using the Ooma for a few days now and I am still impressed. Today, I disconnected my land line and had it forwarded to the Ooma number (so I don’t miss calls to that line). That will allow me (and my hard-to-convince wife) to use the Ooma just as it will be if I decide to turn off the land line entirely. I will keep you posted.
Use the COMMENTS to tell us about YOUR experiences with the various telephone services.