ooma-telo_thumb

Although the use of landline phones has been declining in the U.S. since 2007, around 50% of homes still have active landline service. Many people get phone service through their local phone company, or national cable providers, such as Verizon or Comcast, which costs between $30-60 per month for unlimited calling. Many customers don’t know that there are cheaper alternatives to standard landline service.

Ooma is an alternative to landline service that uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), which is the same technology used by other phone providers, such as Vonage and Skype. After a one-time purchase of the Ooma Telo device ($129.99), service is free. The only monthly fees that are charged are taxes and government fees (such as 911 fees), which are usually less than $5 a month.

VoIP, the technology used by Ooma, requires an Internet connection to operate, since it places and receives calls over an existing Internet connection. However, unlike other VoIP providers, Ooma only uses a very small amount of bandwidth, about 130kbps (kilobits per second), meaning it will work even over a slow DSL connection.

Advantages

  • Higher call quality than a standard landline. Ooma uses G.711 high-bandwidth compression, resulting in a much clearer call than a standard analog phone line.
  • Extremely low monthly fees. Ooma only charges taxes and fees, which are usually less than $5/month.
  • Works with existing phones. Although Ooma sells its own handsets, Ooma works with any wired or wireless landline phone with a standard telephone cable.
  • Whole-home support. Ooma can easily be wired throughout your home’s existing phone jacks, so you can connect phones in different rooms.
  • Fax support. Ooma is one of the few VoIP providers that supports sending and receiving faxes. All you have to do is dial *99 before the fax number to optimize the line for fax transmissions.
  • Keep your current phone number. You can transfer (port) your current phone number to Ooma, either a cell or landline, or get a new phone number.

Disadvantages

  • Call quality may be degraded if you have a slow Internet connection. Although Ooma requires only 130kbps to operate, if your Internet connection is being heavily used by several users, the call quality may drop.
  • Transferring (porting) your phone number to Ooma may take up to 2-3 weeks, and requires a fair amount of paperwork to be filled out by the user. Until your current phone number is transferred over, Ooma gives you a temporary number to use.
  • Faxing may not be reliable. Since fax machines were designed to be used over standard analog phone lines, faxing may not always work over Ooma, since it is a digital service that uses the Internet. Ooma suggests these tips if you’re having trouble faxing.