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Author Topic: personal telephony > voip > ooma  (Read 3190 times)
rcjordan
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« on: December 07, 2009, 06:24:42 PM »

It's not often that I'm awed by a product, but I've just bought and installed an ooma hub in the home broadband and this one is ...well, lemme put it this way:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" -Arthur Clarke

Go to Amazon and read the reviews (685 and counting. 4.5 rating overall)

http://www.amazon.com/ooma-Phone-System-Monthly-Service/dp/B001C1MGKI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1260234782&sr=8-1

Note: I bought the product called the "Core" system or sometimes the "Hub & Scout" not their new "Telo" product.

Equipment cost: $215
Annual fees: $100-$120 (or free if you just want the basic service)
Number portability = yes

Their UI is very similar to Google Voice.

Plug-n-play time for me was 25 minutes from unboxing to first calls.
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vsloathe
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2009, 08:51:35 AM »

Thanks for the review RC.
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2009, 09:14:57 AM »

considering I can't get my internet to work consistently no matter what, I think VoIP is still off in the distance for me... lol

40% packet loss in the past 24 hours.  D'oh!

I HATE YOU COX
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perkiset
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2009, 04:25:39 PM »

I'm right with you ... even with business service here (which I pay a friggin' arm and a leg for) it's pathetic, the amount of down time and brown periods. And since I'm in a marginal AT&T zone, it really puts me in a bind if I'm all-phones-dead. Nothing like a standard 40v 1pair POTS line in the house to make sure you can take those oh-so-important "Are you looking to sell your company?" calls.
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2009, 02:29:06 AM »

I've had VOIP for a number of years now, replaced my landline about 5 years ago.  I pay about $15 a month for unlimited service including domestic long distance and dirt-cheap international.  All the bells and whistles; web and email-accessible voicemail, call waiting/forwarding, speed dial, 3-way calling, yadda yadda yadda.  Along with that I used Google Voice (which is free) and adds a bunch of additional features.

The Ooma setup looks cool, but I have a hard time getting too excited about paying nearly $300 for a box that hooks me in with a startup company (I assume) that may or may not be around in a year or two.  If they go bust, your phone stops working and the device becomes a paperweight.  If my carrier goes under, I call up the next VOIP carrier, change a couple of settings, and I'm back in business.  And I have no up-front investment.

I'm not saying that Ooma is bad, I'm just not sure there's enough value-add there to interest me in plunking down $300.  Assuming they stay in business, you'll start putting money in your pocket after a couple of  years (compare to what I'm paying.)

As for internet service and reliability... I have AT&T DSL.  Now I am NOT a fan of AT&T, in fact I can't stand them.  I think they're a horrible company who treats their customers like shit.  If I could find a reason to trash their internet service or reliability, I would.  But I've been with them for almost 10 years now, and in that time, I am not aware that I've had even a single outage or downtime that I can attribute to them.  Occasionally things seem to slow down, but testing confirms that the slowdown is not specific to my connection but is internet-wide.

So I guess this is an endorsement of AT&T's internet service, I can't complain even though I'd like to. 
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perkiset
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2009, 09:05:11 AM »

Dv8r - is this a widely available service? What VOIP service is handling you?
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rcjordan
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2009, 09:39:09 AM »

>$300 for a box that hooks me in with a startup company (I assume) that may or may not be around in a year or two.  If they go bust, your phone stops working and the device becomes a paperweight.

My concern is also primarily for the viability of the company. The product/service is rock solid ...but if the company goes belly-up, yep, paperweight. The company has apparently been around since 2007, though I'd never heard of them before a week ago.  But at $300, if they last just another 14 months I break even.

>And I have no up-front investment.

But you make it up in monthly costs. I'd rather run the risk that the company makes it and go for the higher ROI.

>If my carrier goes under, I call up the next VOIP carrier, change a couple of settings, and I'm back in business.

I'd have more difficulty, but not that much more. I'd be able to port the numbers, I assume (though there are other options I've not yet explored --like frontending this with Google Voice number.  Again, I'm betting that telephony/voip services are going to become even more of a commodity in a year or two.  Ooma is a bridge service.
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daviator
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2009, 02:37:19 PM »

Dv8r - is this a widely available service? What VOIP service is handling you?

@Perk: I'm currently using Net2Phone http://web.net2phone.com/home_english.asp and have been for a couple of years; prior to that I used Vonage and, before that, AT&T's VOIP offering which I think they don't do any more.  I've had no problems with Net2Phone.  There may even be cheaper services out there now, I haven't looked recently.

@rcjordan:  If the company goes under, you won't be able to port your number.  Number porting requires cooperation from both the transferor and transferee companies.  If the Ooma folks went under, you wouldn't be able to port, and eventually your number would just go back into the pool of unassigned numbers, from what I understand.  That's actually the primary reason I switched away from Vonage -- they were having major financial problems and had publicly stated that they were at risk of running out of cash within a few months.  I switched to a more financially stable VOIP vendor because I didn't want to risk losing my phone number.

That may or may not be a big concern, depends on how attached you are to your number and how much you dread having to notify anyone who might ever call you of a change.

There are even cheaper alternative out there -- "Magic Jack" comes to mind, though their solution is less sophisticated and I think it requires you to run your phone through a PC, which has to be running.  But I'd have the same concern about them; their service stops working if they go under, which might well happen if their sales start to wane.  I suspect they want to sell lots of Magic Jacks, are are less enthused about running a cheap phone network for pennies a day.  Perhaps I'm wrong.

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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2009, 02:52:48 PM »

I just looked at the Net2Phone site and realized that they no longer offer the plan that I'm on, and that I was a little misleading with what I said.  I pay $17.16 per month (including taxes, etc.) for 500 minutes per month of talk time, anywhere in the USA.  The unlimited service is $24 per month, but I don't make that many calls and the 500 minutes always seems to cover me.  They no longer seem to offer the 500 minute plan, so the $24 unlimited plan is the only option for new customers.  You can add an unlimited world option (unlimited calls to over 60 countries) for an additional $15.  Without that option, international calls are pretty cheap; 5 per minute to most of Europe, for example.

You might be able to shop around and do better; the only caveat would be to consider the strength and/or longevity of your provider; if they go under, you could be forced to get a new phone number as you won't be able to port out.
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rcjordan
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2009, 03:17:52 PM »

>port

Though I vaguely recall a post by the ooma people that there would be some sort of contingency plan for porting if the company failed, I wouldn't count on it.  (This is the Net, and all contracts are short-term contracts. -- Joshua Kopelman, Half.com's ex-CEO)

In this particular case, I'm not overly concerned about losing the number ...though keeping it is part of the personal challenge. It's an old residential landline and we've been on cells for about 20 years now, so it's a good one for experimentation.  Until last year I kept it as the last POTS for all the reasons perk mentioned (plus 911 in a rural area).

As for voip call minutes, we don't need those either --we never exceed our cell plans as it is.

What I DO need is a good, web-based, personal switchboard to provide detailed call logging and manage voicemail, voicemail-to-email, caller ID, call screening, and call forwarding (call forwarding is part of the premium service). Ooma  has the backend capabilities I need and the hardware UI is stupid-proof.  I'm actually making this more of a service-enhancement package for our existing cell service instead of yet another phone line; we'll route some of the incoming calls through the Ooma just to screen and log them.

<added>
>Magic Jack" comes to mind, though their solution is less sophisticated and I think it requires you to run your phone through a PC, which has to be running

It does require a pc, which is why I struck it from the list. Also, they've promised number porting "in 2009" --they'd better hurry.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2009, 03:23:13 PM by rcjordan » Logged
isthisthingon
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2009, 04:14:52 PM »

considering I can't get my internet to work consistently no matter what, I think VoIP is still off in the distance for me... lol

40% packet loss in the past 24 hours.  D'oh!

I HATE YOU COX

I kicked that bitch out.  Comcast is my new girlfriend and so far she really delivers Wink
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