I’ve had the Ooma Telo Phone Service since March 2013. Prior to switching to Ooma, I had Vonage internet phone service for about 5 years. I loved Vonage and had a regular line and a dedicated fax line for about $40/month. I work from home and use the phone and fax for business. The main complaint I had with Vonage was the fees kept increasing. I started at about $34/mo. for both phone and fax and slowly they kept increasing the fees – those little taxes and fees tacked to your bill. By March 2013 those fees grew to $17/mo. I hate companies that advertise low prices then tack on high fees. Or internet companies that advertise low prices to get you to their page only to find out when checking out that the shipping and handling fees are more than double anyone else.
Cost of Ooma vs Vonage
As I said, Vonage, with taxes/fees for one line is about $35/mo. plus a one time charge for the Vonage Box – about $40. Ooma Telo costs about $115 – $150 one time charge for the box. Then all you pay are monthly taxes. They vary depending on where you live. I pay about $3.50/mo in S. California. So, payback time for Ooma is about 4-6 months… after that your phone service is basically free ($3.50/mo) with Ooma Telo Service. Ooma charges $40 to transfer your current number. That fee is waived if you sign up for Ooma Premier Service. I’m not sure what Vonage charges to transfer your phone number.
Back to the Ooma
I’ll cut to the chase and then describe why below. I LOVE my Ooma! I have had no problems at all. No dropped calls, no echo when talking… just crystal clear conversations. I’m tech savvy, but even a non tech person can hook this up in less than 10 minutes. Only requirement is you need to know what a router or modem is. Watch my very short video below to see how easy it is to hook up. (On both Ooma and Vonage, you have to set-up an online account – which is easy to do.)
You plug the provided cable from your router to the back of the Ooma Tele. Then you plug your phone into the back of the Ooma Tele. Then wait while it configures itself. Lights will blink and flash and finally if all went well will all turn to blue and stop flashing. You’re set.
How about my fax…
I was almost going to ditch my fax. I get maybe 1 fax every couple months now. But every now and then, it is nice to have a fax machine to fax out, or have available for a client or vendor to fax me. I didn’t want to pay $40 to switch over my old fax number, so I got a new (free) number through Ooma. To get that 2nd line you have to buy Ooma’s Premier package (about $10/mo) – more on that later. I did have to buy a little Ooma device called a Linx (about $50). It is a wireless module that I plugged my fax into. When I decide to ditch the fax, I will use this for the home phone which is still on Time Warner Cable ($35/mo). I had to do a couple things on my Ooma control panel online to make the fax a dedicated line. Took about 10 minutes (for me). So far the fax works 85% of the time. I had a friend fax me as a test and her fax never came through. However, as far as I know, all other faxes have come through. I’ve faxed out with 90% success. Not sure if the 10% failure was Ooma’s fault or just typical fax error.
In a nutshell… Yes, you can have a dedicated fax line using Ooma. Yes, it is easy to set-up. Yes, you do have to purchase the Linx wireless device (about $50). Yes, the phone number is free (or $40 if you want to keep your current fax number). Yes, you have to sign up for Ooma Premier service ($10/mo). But the Premier Service does more than just give you a 2nd line. More on that later.
Ooma Features vs. Vonage
To Vonage’s credit, they offer a lot of features for their base price. Call forwarding, voice mail, voice-to-text email messages, call blocking (somewhat), and several other features. Ooma’s basic package offers basic services but does include voicemail, call waiting, one-touch answer machine message retrieval, and more. See chart below for Ooma Telo Basic features vs. Ooma Teleo Premier features.
Free home phone service with Ooma; Free calling in the U.S. to any phone number; caller-ID, call-waiting and 911 included; No computer or headset required; Option to keep your existing phone number; Low-cost international rates starting at pennies per minute
Compare Ooma Basic to Ooma Premier. Learn More.
The table below summarizes the available features in the Ooma Basic and Premier service tiers to let you see the available features at a glance.
As you can see above, you get quite a bit with the Premier Service. For me, I wanted that 2nd line. My favorite thing in the Premier plan is the call blocking (personal blacklist). I hate all these telemarketers – and I’m on the Do Not Call list (which is a joke now). With Ooma Premier Service you can log in to your online account, pull up a log of phone calls, and tag the telemarketer numbers as blocked and set it that they get a this number is no longer in service message. I also set up my account so any “Unknown” caller Id is routed directly to my voice mail. I don’t even know they call. Initially I blocked all “Unknown” but a couple friends got blocked, so I changed the setting to go to voicemail. Like I said, I use Ooma for my home business – so I am at my computer all day. I keep My.Ooma.com open in my browser and when I get a spam phone call I imediately flag that number.
Another feature (Vonage also has this), is I having my Ooma Phone with Premier Service to ring a backup number (my cell) in the event my internet service goes down. That way I will never miss a call. You can also set it to ring both your Ooma phone and your Cell phone (or any other number – let’s say your vacation house). You can also set up custom rings – but I haven’t so far.
When you get your Ooma Telo, you get a 60 day free trial of Premier Service to check it out. If you purchase, it will cover the $40 they charge to transfer your phone number. I paid annual and got the service for $99.
My cost: I pay $3.50/mo taxes, $8.25/mo Premier ($99/yr) = $11.75/mo. My initial outlay was $150 (got a deal) for the Ooma Telo & the Wireless Linx hub. Amazon has the Ooma Telo device for $117 with free Prime Shipping as I write this review (normally $150).
Not too bad for FREE calls in US… I think Canada & Mexico have good rates – I don’t call out of country. In 6 months I have had ZERO problems and have not had to contact Ooma support.
If you are paying more than $11.75 a month for your phone at home, consider getting the Ooma Telo System. Amazon has over 3,500 reviews with a 4.5 star rating. Doesn’t get much better than that! (Click here to see the reviews)
Ooma Phone – which phone to use?
Ooma sells an internet phone. You do not need this phone. It actually gets fairly poor reviews. So what phone should you use with Ooma? The easiest way to hook up your phone system is to use the phones that use a phone hub with satellite phones. I have Uniden phones for my office. I merely plug the hub phone (the main unit) into the back of the Ooma Telo and all the satellite phones work with Ooma. So whether you have vTech, Panasonic, Sony, or whatever, they will work just fine with the Ooma Telephone System.
- Revolutionary device that gives you free calls within U.S. and low rates for international calls. Pay only applicable taxes and fees
- Works with any corded or cordless phone; easy installation with no computer required. Not compatible with Ooma Scout.
- Includes caller-ID, call-waiting, 911, and many other calling features
- Includes 60-day free trial of Ooma Premier — a suite of enhanced calling services features
- Includes everything needed for installation; backed by 30-day money-back guarantee and extendable 1-year warranty
Vonage is a good alternative to standard phone service and should save you money – but not as much money as Ooma. With Vonage, you need a special modem with phone jacks or a special little device that connects to your modem that you plug your phone into. Sometimes Vonage has specials where you can get these for free if you sign up or at a discounted price (About $40 at Walmart). Hook-up is fairly straight forward. I had the Vonage modem that had 2 phone jacks – one for my phone the other for my fax. I had to run a long phone cord from my fax to the modem.
Vonage has many basic features:
Voice quality is good. As I mentioned earlier, I have no complaints with Vonage except for their tack on fees which continued to increase.
A Plus to Either Vonage or Ooma
Because these are both internet based VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) it is easy to take your phone with you if you travel. Merely take the device – the Ooma Telo or Vonage box – and plug it into a router at your destination.
My story: I live in Huntington Beach, CA. My mom lived in Elkhart, IN. She became critically ill in 2008. With no time to prepare, my wife, myself and our dog hastily packed my car, I grabbed my computer and my Vonage router and headed for Indiana. Once we got to my mom’s house in Elkhart, I set up my computer, plugged my router into her modem and plugged a phone into the Vonage router. I was open for business. When a client called my 714 CA business number it rang at my mom’s house. I answered as usual and most of my clients didn’t even know I was in Indiana. Business as usual. My mom lasted another 4 weeks before passing away. I was so glad to be able to be with her during that time. She died peacefully at home. We stayed another 4 weeks getting her house ready for sale.
I could have done the same with my Ooma Telo. If you wanted to take an extended vacation out of the area or visit relatives, you can take your phone and in my case, my entire business, with you.
Which One to Get – Ooma vs Vonage?
After having both Vonage and Ooma, I can highly recommend Ooma Telo. That would be my first choice. If for some reason you don’t want to put out the initial $150 (or less if on special), then give Vonage a try. But do the math… if the Vonage device costs $40 and the Ooma Telo costs $125 ($99-$150), the Ooma is only about $80 – $100 more than Vonage upfront, but you will be saving about $35/mo forever. In the first year you will save about $275 with Ooma. Then the following years you will save about $380/yr.. (check out current Ooma price)
I have not tried Magic Jack or some of the other services so can not comment on them. I would stick to the major players and that is Ooma and Vonage. Good luck!
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