One thing that is good about this economy is that it has caused me to think outside the box. I am forced to re-think the way I pay for things I think I need. In this post, I’ll tell you how I decreased my home phone bill.
I know a lot of you are getting rid of your land lines and trading them in for a cell phone. I do have a cell phone, but I want a land line because my tweens (10 and 11) are ready to take the next step toward independence, stay home unsupervised for short times. They’re not ready (or should I say that I’m not ready) to give them cell phones.
I looked into getting Vonage and Magic Jack, but they didn’t really appeal to me partly because they required a computer be on all the time.
My son’s friend’s family had this strangely phone service provider- Ooma. When their name showed up on the caller ID, before I changed my phone service to bare bones w/o caller id, it showed up as Ooma Inc or something like that. I thought they owned another business that I didn’t know about. Instead, as I later found out, it was their phone company.
Ooma, like Vonage and Magic Jack use Voice Over the Internet Protocol (commonly referred to as VOIP). First, you buy an Ooma Telo, about $200. Instead of plugging it into a computer, you plug it into your DSL or Cable Router or directly into your Cable Modem (this is what I did). On the back of the Ooma Telo, there are two ports. One is an outgoing port that lets you hook up your router. The other is an incoming port that connects to your modem. Below are some graphics to visually explain what I’m talking about (click graphics to enlarge):
Wiring Option 1
I wired mine like this because I wanted to give the Ooma, and thus my calls, first crack at the bandwidth. I’m not entirely sure that this wiring set up will make that much of a difference. However, when I made a phone call while 2 Netflix videos were playing and one person was surfing the net, the phone call didn’t get disconnected or break up. In fact, I think that just one time in the half hour call, one of the Netflix shows had to buffer. Another advantage of this is that I have all 4 ports left on my router to connect computers.
The router I chose has for outgoing ports to connect to computers and the Ooma. I haven’t tried it yet, but I could hook up one computer to the back of the Ooma if I try the 2nd wiring option just like I could hook up a computer directly to a modem if I didn’t have a router and wireless devices. However, I prefer to have my router control the devices connected to the internet because my router has cloud technology that allows mobile devices control the router via apps found on the android market and itunes (that’s an entirely separate topic you can read about here).
The Advantages of Ooma
Ooma’s low monthly bill
The monthly bill with a basic account is pretty small. This is how much I’ll end up paying (see graphic).
My old phone service without caller ID, long distance or any other services was $17. Double that and you get a few features like caller ID. With Ooma, you get a bunch of services. You can calculate your savings before you sign up.
Yes, I do have to agree to follow some terms, but I am not stuck with the Ooma service for a given amount of time. I can choose to drop the service for whatever reason whenever I want.
Some sites compare the price of the different plans and point out that Ooma is expensive. Each has a start up fee as well as other charges that make providing the service profitable for the company. However, I see paying a few dollars per month as very little. If I had chosen one of the other options that required a computer be on all the time, that would add to my electric bill and would increase the time that my kids would spend on the computer. Also, I considered that having my computer on all the time would increase the opportunities for my computer to crash and/or need to be replaced sooner than if it were on only when I need to use it.
Ooma’s Features for the Basic Service Package
I’ll let the graphic do all the talking. You can find out what each of these mean on the Ooma website. Click on the graphic to go directly to the page with the features (including my sources here).
As you can see there are a lot of features available. If you want to know what PureVoice HD Technology is, Ooma developed a page just to show off what they can do.
Right about now, I wish there was a program that paid me for telling you what I like about this service because I feel like I’m writing an ad. However, I am not. I won’t get even a penny. I’m just super excited that Ooma is going to save us a ton of money and it sounds great!
Use your existing Phones
I have a Vtech multi-unit cordless phone set
. I can use them instead of buying one of Ooma’s devices. In fact, I read somewhere that you’re better off with your own phones anyway. Also, if you want to continue to use corded phones, you can. All you have to do is unplug the wire in the junction box outside your home- IF you do not have DSL service coming to your house. Then plug a phone wire between the Ooma Telo and a wall jack. All the phones in the rest of the house should work. I also like that I won’t need a line conditioner for each phone.
Ooma Start-up Cost
However, there are some down sides that I have to tell you about. The Ooma Telo
is $199 up front. If you used the savings calculator up above, it factored that in for you. Since I wanted to minimize this upfront cost, I went to buy it online so I could avoid extra taxes and in-store mark-ups. I was willing to be patient and wait for free shipping, too. I ended up choosing buy.com because I found other sites either marked up the price or charged shipping.
Also, I decided not to buy a used Ooma Telo because there is $59.99 reactivation charge and I wanted the one year warranty that comes with a new device.
Ooma often has special promotions. In fact, in July 2012, there was a $50 off promotion with free shipping that still comes with the 30 day money back guarantee.
Porting Your Phone Number
You can keep the phone number for a land line or cell phone due to some laws that passed a while ago. I really wanted to do this because it would save me some time distributing my new phone number to the people who need to contact me. So far, that is really a positive because it saves time and I don’t have to memorize a new number. However, I was unaware that there was a cost to this. It is a one time charge of $39.99 and takes 3-4 weeks. I suppose that gave me a few weeks to decide that I like Ooma.
When I started the porting process, I was told that it would take 3-4 weeks. Instead, it was ready about a week later. I received an email the day before the process completed informing me that everything would be set to go the next day. Sure enough, it was ready by 10 AM the next morning. All they asked me to do was to unplug my Ooma Telo for 30 seconds to make sure that all the settings updated properly. Pretty simple.
I am very happy with my service so far. I am looking forward to the savings I will have for years to come. Another feature I forgot to mention is that if I end up moving, I take the Telo with me and change my phone number, but only if I want to change it. I can have any phone number that isn’t taken even if I don’t live in that area code.
Setting up was super easy. Just make sure you put the wires in the proper places and it is ready to go in a few minutes- it updates itself after you follow the simple instructions that come with the packaging. Then, adjust the settings in My Ooma to your liking. If you don’t want to continue with the Premier service, which came as a trial when you signed up, remember to cancel in the my ooma section after you are set up.
Ooma Product Images
Have you tried Ooma? If you have, what have your experiences been? Share with us. You may save someone some money or time.