Reducing Expenses: Eliminate Your Phone Bill with Ooma Review

Its hard to write a review about Ooma that is not glowing - after all this product has something about it that gives a look of excitement to just about everyone who hears about it - no more monthly landline telephones fees! Its one of those products that needs no advertising, the viral buzz on this should make it a smashing success if the company stays in business.

What is Ooma?
Ooma is a VOIP home telephone system. You purchase the hardware and its free to use (new subscribers just have to pay phone taxes). Basic Use has no monthly phone services fees. You don't need a credit card or even an account with the company once you have purchased the hardware.

What do you get?
If you purchase the Ooma phone system (currently ~$210) you get two boxes that look like answering machines. In 15minutes you can get a phone number, plug the hardware into your Internet connection and your home telephone line, and start making phone calls. You get Caller ID, Call Waiting, Voicemail and unlimited calling in the US & Canda for free. There is an upgrade subscription that will give you additional benefits such as as additional lines and you can also create an account to pay for international calling.

Does it work?
The beauty of this device is its simplicity. Nothing complicated and any semi-intelligent person could install it and use it as a regular telephone system. No hoops or hassles to go through (at least in my experience). We have been using our Ooma for about a week and haven't had any problems with call quality - its been just as reliable as our previous home telephone line through AT&T.

Doesn't this sound like this is too good to be true?
Well it does. After all its not clear how the company will stay in business, but for me it was an obvious decision to purchase. At roughly $210, this phone device would pay for itself in less than 1 yr. So as long as the company exists for at least the next year I save money. From there its all gravy for me. No more landline phone bills for us.

Downsides to Ooma
Reading this review, it sounds like a paid review of the product. Ooma is definitely something to rave about, but it does have limitations.

  1. Its only as good as your internet connection. Crappy internet connection will mean crappy phone service.
  2. Their ability to port your existing number appears limited. Looking on their web site it looked like Ooma was unable to port numbers in many exchanges in our area. My wife and I had already canceled our home phone when we went on our China assignment so we needed a new number anyway. We had no problems selecting a local phone number when we activated our device.
  3. There is that nagging risk about the company not surviving. If the company does go out of business its not clear if or how long the phone system would work. After kicking the tires with the Ooma system I am more convinced this is nothing to worry about. This product appears to be a game changer.
  4. As the Ooma Network expands will call quality decrease? Other reviews say the Ooma VOIP system actually benefits with p2p technology by having more users so supposedly having more users will actually benefits call quality. However, I suspect their might be growing pains along the way as this product could explode in popularity.
  5. Recommended Internet Connection Upload Speed is 256Kbps. We have been using it on 128Kbps upload speed and it seems to be working fine. I will point out we haven't tried to actively use both the phone and our internet at the same time.
  6. If you have more than 2 telephone handsets to connect you might need more hardware. You basically need a box for each telephone that you want to connect. Most people recommend getting a cordless telephone system that has multiple phones/bases with a main base that connects to the telephone line to avoid extra connections.

How Does it Work?
Its pretty easy to describe what happens when you receive your Ooma product.

  1. You get a big smile on your face when you read the packaging about never paying phone fees again.
  2. You go on the Ooma web site and
    a) enter the MAC address from the bottom of the Ooma device
    b) Give them your name and address for 911 services
    c) Pick out a phone number
    d) create voicemail account with email & password
  3. Plug in an ethernet cable/internet connection and a phone handset directly into the Ooma box.
  4. In about 30 seconds the light on the box will turn "blue" which means your system is live and you can start making phone calls.
  5. You can also use the home telephone wiring built into your home to hook up another telephone. Plug a phone line from a wall telephone jack into the Ooma box. There is a second box ("scout") that you plug into the wall at the location of your 2nd telephone and then plug the 2nd telephone directly into the "scout". You can buy additional "scouts" for other telephones at ~$60 per "scout".

As an existing user, I have a refer-a-friend promotion where you can get an Ooma Telo for $99.99 + free shipping using my referral code XIN8036.

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Comments (16)

So what do you do when your Internet connection goes down? No landline, right? Also, what about in an emergency situation? Here in upstate NY, the power goes out a few times a year due to severe weather -- the landline continues to work, although everything else is offline (Internet, electricity, etc).

I used to work for a VOIP provider in Los Angeles. One of the biggest issues we had was that when the network was down - so was your phone. Kind of a communication double whammy.

Your strong endorsement causes me to question your impartiality. Whenever you review a product you should routinely mention whether you have any affiliation with the company providing it. Common sense causes me to question why someone would strongly recommend anything that he had used for only one week. This product sounds like Sunrocket which had a prepaid ISP and phone plan. They went out of business after many folks in my office paid them. The simple rule in business is that if it sounds too good to be true. . . it probably is. I like the way you listed the pro's and con's but you did no analysis into the company behind the product.

twin cities,
Thanks for the comment. I have no affiliation with the company or the product (other than the affilate link in the posrt to Amazon product page). You are absolutely right the company could go out of business just like Sunrocket - I have no idea and thats why I listed that as a "Con" in my eyes. However with the short paypack period, the product being carried by Walmart, Best Buy, and other major retailers, I think its a smart calculated risk, but use your own research and judgement.

UpstateNY & Chris - your right all issues/concerns that apply to other VOIP services also apply to this service. Those are not concerns for me because my primary phone is my cell phone.

Wouldn't it be better to buy MajicJack and only pay $19.99 per year?

Here's a good recent article on the topic in Fortune Magazine:
article link

I don't recommend using this product if you run a business from your home. It seriously affected our internet speed, at least in our area of Chapel Hill, NC with Time Warner Cable. We got to the point that we had to unplug it because the internet slowed to a crawl and was completely unusable.

Read the instructions. OOMA works by peer-to-peer networking. So others are using your network bandwidth to connect calls while you are idle likewise you are using their bandwidth when on a call. I agree this is not appropriate for a business. I would also suggest it is not appropriate to incoming calls. I would only use it for outgoing calls and turn it off at other times. You might be able to throttle other users but I don't know enough about the system.

2Mil, Just curious now after a few months what your comments are on Ooma. I'm thinking about making the switch myself from Vonage to Ooma and wondering if you are still as positive on it? Thanks.

Still very happy with our Ooma and would highly recommend it. Espically if you are use to Vonage, then I think it would be a easy transition for you.

i'm also thinking about switching from vonage to ooma. can i ask you a question about the unit? if the phone rings and you don't pick up, can you hear the caller leaving a message or can you make it go to voice mail?

Hi Dee,
If we don't pick up the call goes to voicemail after 3-4 rings. I don't believe we can hear the caller leave the message, but there maybe a setting we dont' know about - I have just used the default settings.

Have you ever needed to increase the upload settings from 128 kbps? Do you use a cable modem or dsl?

Zeke - no we still ahven't upgraded our internet service, although we now have a bit more breakup in our line during peak use time. Still holding out for now.

Ooma Telo currently does NOTsupport inbound DTMF. In other words it cannot transmit the different tones when dialed from incoming calls. You cannot access your anwering machine remotely from an outside line or use a PBX system for different extensions in your home/office.

A big pitfall that I wish I knew before purchasing it. It has been mentioned in ooma tech support blogs that they "will be supporting DTMF" with the Telo but after talking to tech support, nobody at ooma seems to know anything about if or when it will be supported.

i have 1kbs internet speed will it support ooma

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