Free Phone Service at Home with Ooma

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while, and now Ooma just emailed me about a special offer that saves cuts $50 off the price of their Telo device until July 31st, so I figured I’d better post about it now.

What is it?

Ooma is a VOIP box that gives you phone service over your existing Internet connection. It allows you to keep your existing phone number if you wish (though there’s a $39, one-time charge to port the number over should you chose to do this). It connects on one end to your network, and on the other to your phone handset. It also acts as an answering machine, and offers a lot of advanced features like the option to email you text transcripts of your voice mail.

Who’s it for?

Homes and, though they have a separate business offering, it also works for small businesses, although each of these Ooma Telos only handle one incoming line. But I do know people running several Ooma Telos at their work on the same network, each with a separate phone number attached to it. It is also ideal for people with vacation homes that need home phone or fax lines but don’t want to pay monthly fees for seldom-used lines.

So, does it work?

We’ve had an Ooma Telo at home for four months now as our only “landline”. We paid the $39 to have our old number ported to it, and, of course, paid to buy the Ooma in the first place, but that’s all we’ve spent, and it’s been perfectly reliable. The call quality is actually much better than what I’ve seen in the past from Vonage, and the Ooma rings every time you call it, which is something Google Voice, and, to a lesser extent, Skype can’t seem to get right. Basically, it’s just like having a normal land-line, without the $20-30 miniumum monthly charge, and with a whole lot of extra features built into it. I also bought a second one and set it up as my fax line at work, and it’s been perfect in that role as well. The only downside we’ve seen is that if your internet connection is down, your phone is also down…but then, if you’ve got a cell phone, that’s not much of an issue anyway.

The visual voicemail that you can check from your computer web browser window is handy when your away from home. The option to get emails with your voice mails attached is great. You can forward the line to your cell if you like, and there’s a plethora of other features, some for a monthly fee, and some for free. See here for a complete list of features.

The other thing I was concerned with was simply who is Ooma? I mean, am I going to buy this box just to have the company go out of business and make it useless? The good news is that though Ooma is a small company, they have been in business for 9 years, they’re located in California, and they show no sign of going away anytime soon.

All things considered, my only regret is we didn’t find out about Ooma sooner. Considering the price of the Ooma purchase was paid back within 3 months by not having a phone bill, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever bought.

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