In a continuing effort to reduce our cable bill, I recently decided to switch our home phone service to VoIP service. A long time ago, I tried Vonage, and was not happy at all with the service – voice quality was bad and it didn’t work with my security system, not to mention it wasn’t much of a cost savings. It left a bad taste in my mouth, so I didn’t even consider trying them out again. But once again, Pete, my daughter’s boyfriend, stepped up and recommended an alternate service called Ooma.

Now you may recall, Pete also was the one who recommended the Republic Wireless cellular service, which I am still happy with. And I don’t want you to think that I consider each syllable that leaves his tongue to be golden. However, past experience did suggest he may be offering another worthy nugget.

My phone service was provided by Verizon Digital Phone and came with all the standard features like caller ID, call waiting and voice mail. It was offered at the price of $30.00/month, but as part of the TriplePlay bundle, it was essentially free. But I wanted to get rid of my TV subscription as well, leaving only the internet. Well, that was the plan, anyway.

The Ooma service works with a network enabled box called Teleo. It’s $129.00, but you can find discount coupons and signup offers or even refurbished models that will bring the price down by up to $40. And that’s about all you pay for, other than taxes and fees, which for me was under $4.00/month. That’s it. Plug it into your network, plug your phone system into it, and you’re done.

Although you can’t take advantage of the existing house phone wiring, most phone systems are wireless anyway and you can add several additional phones if you want. I think our systems supports 6 phones, right now we have 2, one for upstairs, one for my office. What I was really surprised with was how easily the phone adapted to Ooma. All of Ooma’s functions worked perfectly through the phone. Voice message notifications, menu items, caller ID, call waiting, it all worked with zero modifications.

Of course, you need to place the phone system in proximity to the Teleo and a network connection, so unless you have a hardline in your kitchen or a powerline connector, you need to have the Teleo and the phone base unit near your router. This was fine for me, everything was in my office already.

Voice quality was very good. There seems to be a very slight delay at times, and you quickly adjust to it. I have had one or two call drops, but can’t ascertain whether it was the other party’s fault or Ooma’s. They seem to be rare in any case. So far, I am fairly pleased. Be aware of the 911 emergency call guidelines for this type of service, there are some occasions where it may not function appropriately, and they recommend a cell phone for emergency/backup use.

Back to the money saving part. After I got Ooma up and running, I transferred my existing number over to it (cost $40). This took about 2 weeks. When it was completed, Verizon sent me an email saying that I should call them to review my current package in the light of the removal. So I did, and come to find out, my bundle was still intact, even though I removed a service, which was cool, I thought I was going to have to pay a $230 bundle cancellation fee. However, when I spoke to them regarding the removal of the cable TV, they said that if I dropped that, my internet service would be $89/month – more than I was paying now! If I kept local TV and internet, it would drop to $69/month about what I was paying, and a further $12/month could be gained by returning my cable box.

Net result, when I return the box, I will be saving $12/month. Seems like a lot of effort for little return, but I guess it all adds up.

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