The best way to have home phone service.
Nowadays with the popularity of cellular phones and the rising cost of the standard landline, the home phone is going the way of the dinosaurs. That doesn’t mean you should not have one. It just means you should find a better way than the standard phone company offers. Ooma is that better way.
Ooma is a VOIP (Voice Over IP) home telephone service. With this system, you get free nationwide calling and very low international rates. All you pay is the taxes and fees, which vary based on your state. For me, it’s about $5 a month. One catch is that you do have to have a stable internet connection, but most households have that. So, if you already have the internet and you want a landline, the Ooma service is pretty much perfect for you.
The first step with this system is obtaining the Ooma Telo, which is a router box that prioritizes voice data and directs internet traffic to ensure a good signal for phone calls. This is different than some other VOIP systems that just connect you directly to the internet rather than routing the signal first. Once you have the Ooma Telo, you visit ooma.com/activate to activate the device and set up your account. If you are an existing customer, do not get through the standard activate process. That will cause you to start a second account. Instead, contact customer support (you can do this through their 24/7 online chat, too) and have them transfer your account to the next box. All they need is the activation codes on the bottom. Once your box has been activated or transferred, then you plug in the Telo (power, ethernet cable from the modem, and telephone cable to phone receiver) and you are ready to go. It’s a very quick and painless set-up process and definitely worth it.
You actually have a lot of options with the Ooma Telo that you wouldn’t necessarily have with a standard landline unless you paid extra. For example, you automatically have call-waiting and caller ID blocking are included as Basic Operations with the Ooma Telo. The Telo device also acts as an answering machine of sorts because you can utilize the voicemail feature and play messages directly from the box. Like many phone services, Ooma does have a Premier package ($10/month) that come with a lot of added benefits like voicemail forwarding to your smartphone or computer and using Ooma on your smartphone through a mobile app. Even with these enhanced options, the cost is much less than standard landline charges.
Ooma has been my home phone service for the past five years and it’s been incredibly reliable. That’s usually the first question people ask – Is it reliable? As long as I have an internet connection, I have the phone. The call quality is crisp and clear. No one believes that they are talking through a VOIP service when I tell them. It has a better reception that my mobile phone does sometimes.
Because I’ve been a customer of Ooma for so long, I am actually able to compare the Telo box to the earlier version of it. The new Ooma Telo box has a sleeker design to it and is a bit smaller than its predecessor. One big difference I saw right away was the inclusion of tactile buttons versus the touch surface buttons on the previous version of the hardware. I much prefer the tactile buttons because you have to be deliberate in pressing them. Before I would run a dust rag over the unit and a voice command would sound letting me know that there were no new messages.
The Ooma icon on the top of the Telo is actually a status indicator and will show different colors depending on the system’s status. The colors rotate between blue, purple, and red. The only thing I don’t like about this that the purple is too close to the red color. I wish that it had a bigger contrast for that middle status.
The set-up is very easy. It is as I described it above and really only takes about 10 minutes start to finish if you have the space picked out for it and already have all the equipment ready to go. The Telo is meant to be a desktop box and not hung on the wall, so be prepared for that in your planning. We have ours stashed away in a printer stand and don’t have any issues with its performance.
Ooma really has a lot going for it as a technology and VOIP service company. They have a solid piece of hardware in the Telo and lots of add-ons including Smart Home connections that make life easier. This was a big announcement that the company actually made back at CES in early January. Ooma is compatible with IFTTT protocol and will ‘talk’ to many connected devices like Android Gear, Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo, and Google.
The connected home features are a part of the premier account service that Ooma provides. And it can be very beneficial. In just the past six months that Ooma has been connected to IFTTT, more than 10,000 recipes have been created and used more than 230,000 times. The most popular recipes (60% of Telo users’ recipes) are the ones that send call and voicemail notifications to smartphones and Apple Watches. Some of the other popular recipes include email myself an MP3 copy of any new voicemail, saving voicemails and a call log of incoming calls to Google Drive, and personalizing notifications from known vs. unknown callers.
If you are looking to make a switch but are leery of living without a home phone, check out Ooma. It has a lot to offer and is much more affordable than other standard phone options.