Ooma Telo Phone Service Discounts + Long Term Review

Updated, now only $99 with free shipping via referral below. The Ooma Telo is a VoIP system that creates a home phone service through your broadband internet. Just plug in your regular landline phones and go. Features include unlimited domestic long distance, 911 service, caller ID, voicemail, and call waiting. In addition to the one-time purchase price, new customers must pay a share of government taxes and regulatory fees that works out to around $5 a month. Consumer Reports rated it their #1 home phone service in their June 2012 issue. Here is the Consumer Reports “Claim Check” video:

My Long-Term Review

I bought my system in December 2009 for a then-good deal of $158, and I remembered worrying about the FCC shutting them down because I couldn’t believe their business model could be so cheap over the long haul. Well, I’ve now gotten three nearly 4 years of home phone service for that $158, working out to under $4 a month. (Early adopters with the original Core system were grandfathered out of tax recovery charges.) It appears now that as long as the government gets their share of phone taxes and fees, they won’t be shutting down Ooma any time soon. I’m glad I spent the extra $40 to port my previous landline phone number.

The best compliment I can give about the Ooma system that I don’t even notice that it’s not a landline. It just works reliably. In my entire time of ownership I remember reading about a few hours of downtime in the middle of night, and nothing within the last year. The call quality is always great, and I can even use my fax machine with it. In some ways it’s even better than my old landline, because I can get e-mail notifications of voicemails and then listen to them on my computer or smartphone.

The “unlimited” phone service technically has a limit of 5,000 minutes per month under the explanation that it is meant for personal use. That works out to an average of nearly 3 hours per day, every day, so that’s close enough to unlimited for me. They do regularly bug you to upgrade to their Premier level of service which has added features for another $10 a month, but I’ve never felt the need to. Just make sure your number is on the Do Not Call list and you should be fine.

One alternative is the Obihai + Google Voice combo, but is scheduled to shut down in May 2014. I know that many people are cell-phone only now, but for many households the most frugal option might be a Ooma box plus a basic prepaid phone plan for under $10 a month. Whenever possible, lower those recurring monthly expenses!

Current Ooma Deals
As I am an existing user, there is a refer-a-friend promotion right now where you can get Ooma for $99.99 + free shipping using my referral code SAD5171.

Comments

  1. I am a long time reader of your blog (thanks for the heads up on all of the wonderful deals, by the way) and am definitely interested in purchasing the Ooma. My husband and I have been trying to reduce all of our reoccurring monthly expenses in preparation for me staying home with our son. I would love the coupon if you still have one. Thanks for the wonderful blog! Kara

  2. I’d use one of those coupon codes if there’re still available.

  3. What are the rates for international calls on OOma?

  4. I like magic jack. The device costs less than $40, and that includes the first year of service. After the first year the service is just $30/year. Call quality and reliability are the same as you describe for Ooma.

  5. I been looking for an alternative to Vonage and checked out Ooma after reading your post. I am very much satisfied with Vonage but just want to reduce my monthly bill from apx $35 which includes unlimited international calling especially to India. I did the calculation with Ooma Telo and it comes just little bit cheaper with limited international mins.

    Here is my cal for 2 years,
    $5 for the box + $10/month for Premier(to get some of the features which I use in Vonage currently) + $10/month for international plan for 1000 mins includes 750 mins from cell phone for limited time = Total $25 + tax $6 = $31

    You never know when they will remove the limited time offer on cellphone calls. Taking all into consideration, I don’t think it can beat Vonage alcarte pack so I am stuck with Vonage for now. Any thoughts?

  6. Jonathan, do you have a backup power supply for your internet so the phone can be used in a power outage? That is the one thing holding me back from VoIP and discontinuing the land line.

  7. I prefer Ooma to Magic Jack because you have to have the computer on to use Magic Jack…right?

  8. I bought this based on your recommendation way back in 2009 and I’ve had the exact same experience. I have the older hardware and for the first year paid for the premium service but now just use the basic.

    It’s been a joy to use and I couldn’t be happier with the service. Like you said, I don’t even notice it’s not a real land line. It just works all the time and I haven’t paid a dime other than the original hardware costs!

  9. @Warren use a cell phone in a power outage. Cell towers have generator backups.

  10. Does Ooma do real e-911 these days? The description on their website makes it sound like they do.

    I was thinking that Ooma was one of the services that would route your e911 call to someone in the area that had a landline attached, but I could be thinking of another service.

  11. Andrew
    The new magic jack plus allows you to use the phone without the computer being on

  12. Can I still use my alarm system with Ooma or Magic jack? I’ll appreciate feedback.

  13. chupacaba says:

    As Andrew said the new MagicJack Plus doesn’t have to be connected to a computer (you can connect it to your router instead or into a wall electrical outlet). Be aware that Magic Jack does have large areas of the country they seemingly can’t, or more likely, won’t route calls to. In my personal experience that includes most of Montana, North Dakota, and parts of South Dakota (yes, that’s the hinterlands but you can’t control where your friends/family live)….I would guess that there are other areas in other rural states as well. Due to that, I haven’t used my MJ+ as much as I had intended. Call quality has been tolerable; I wouldn’t call it flawless or “land line like” but “OK most of the time”, sometimes get pronounced echo but not always.

  14. Why not just buy Magic Jack?

  15. Abel, the OOMa site has this to say about home alarms :

    “Home alarm compatibility
    If you have a home alarm system that relies on a phone line, we recommend that you use Ooma with a landline or keep a separate landline to support your alarm system. ”

    So basically the answer is : no, they aren’t compatible with home alarm systems in general. Thats really the home alarm systems fault as they rely on old landline technology and aren’t generally updated to work with VOIP systems.

  16. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    Thanks for the review and letting us know about the deal. Not sure I’ll ever need a land line phone though.

  17. I have been using Google Talk + OBi110 with great success. Free calls and low international rates. Excellent call quality, Google voice web interface to voicemail, transcription, etc … better than a conventional landline.

  18. @Warren – I do have a backup power supply, but if the cable internet goes down on its own I’m still out of luck. That’s where I’m just happy with the cell phone backup.

    @Andrew – Yes on the old Magicjacks, but the new Magicjack Plus does not require a computer. I’m going to borrow a friend’s and review that if I can remember.

    @Stephen – Yes it is real e911. You provide an address when signing up and they will send this to the authorities when you dial 911.

    @Jim – I don’t like alarm systems that rely on landline anyway, I could cut my landline in 5 seconds with a pair of regular scissors by walking outside. My system is GSM cell-based.

  19. OfficeMax is currently indicating that the Ooma Telo is ‘temporarily out of stock’. But they are showing it with a $199.99 price.

  20. I’ve had Ooma for about 5 years. I was grandfathered in and have no monthly fee! At first I thought if thing lasts a year, I make out over a landline. Now it’s just gravy every month! Only had a problem faxing with it – I have to look up the instructions to enable it but I only fax like once a year anyhow. I have some referral codes – shoot me an email at my gmail account. User name is. jst24563.

  21. I am happy with the landline-quality service I get for free from Obihai and Google Voice. If Google ever stops being free (or goes away), the Obihai box will also work with any number of other VOIP providers, unlike Ooma which will only work with Ooma.

  22. Newegg.com has this, with the BlueTooth Adapter, for $185, which I think is the best deal out there at this point…

  23. I know that Ooma is being pushed here because of the referral credits incentive for the writer, but this is a no-brainer, as briefly alluded to in the article: You all want Obitalk with Google Voice. Even if it’s a temporary solution that takes you through the end of 2012, you’re still saving a ton of money because it’s the same free unlimited long-distance service as Ooma, but 100% free and even superior in most respects.

    Again, this is a no-brainer. Buy the $40 Obitalk adapter and you’re all set with 100% free unlimited local and long distance with Google Voice. Magic Jack requires your computer to be on 24/7; Obitalk doesn’t.

  24. @Jonathan and Jim – Thanks.
    @Jonathan – I know this is out of topic but could you please give some brief feedback (experience/cost effectiveness) on your GSM cell-based alarm system?
    What stops me from moving from landline to Oama is my alarm system. Thanks in advance.

  25. If OfficeMax remains out of stock, it’s still just $150 if you buy from Amazon (no tax for most + free ship) and pay $200 and do the mail-in rebate.

    For us, the thing was that Google Voice cannot port landline numbers, and their “free” numbers are only for certain area codes. We wanted to keep our old landline number, and not have to port it all over the place if GV got expensive. This was possible with Ooma, and we were happy with the result. But now 3 years later, if Ooma stops working for whatever reason I do think we’ll just stick with cell phones.

    @Abel – Alarm system review coming :)

  26. @Jonathan: There’s a nearly free two-step process that I used for porting from a landline phone which is still dramatically cheaper (via the $0 monthly bill of Google Voice) than even a few months of paid Ooma service. Instructions are widely available via Google. Under FCC regulations, you will retain the right to port your number to a different service provider if you so choose in the future.

  27. I see, port to disposable cell phone and port to Google Voice. The Google Voice FAQ still just says no landlines. Here’s a good link explaining the process (total cost for author $25 for throwaway prepaid phone and 1 month service, $20 for the Google voice port fee):

    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/government/google-voice-a-step-by-step-primer-on-ditching-your-land-line-while-keeping-your-number/10455

    I think Obihai is still a good low-cost option, and hope it doesn’t start charging 2013.

    http://www.mymoneyblog.com/free-calls-google-voice-gmail-extended-2012.html

    http://www.mymoneyblog.com/obihai-google-voice-free-voip-phone-until-2012.html

  28. I just checked and the Ooma Telo is showing up as in-stock at OfficeMax again, $200 before rebate for some zip codes, $230 for other zip codes.

  29. Costco has Ooma with wi-fi adapter for $169 shipping included, through August 19.

  30. Ooma for $139.99 and free shipping:

    http://go.ooma.com/referral2/?referral_code=SAD5171

  31. I have magicJack and just recently found out that I can no longer make free calls to my cousin whose landline phone is serviced by an independent phone company…what magicJack calls a non-ILEC carrier. Now I call her using Google Voice. She also cannot phone me, so I’ve given her my Google Voice number and forward my calls to my landline number.

    Another surprise is that magicJack charges an annual fee to keep your ported number. I did a chat, and the CSR told me it is $9.95 per year. That’s only if you want to keep your ported number…otherwise it’s free.

    So, does Ooma charge an annual fee to keep your ported number?

  32. You forgot to mention that if for some reason you cancel your account (or gets cancelled because of inactivity, think folks using it for vacation homes) You are basically stuck with a very expensive brick, the reason being that they charge $80 dollars to ‘reactivate’ the device… Complete rip off and makes it very difficult to resell

  33. Can U guys pls check out these vendors- see what U think- in terms of pricing & how much of a better deal it is than OOMA! Due to the fact that OOMA charges EXTRA for all the extra 45 features,services that these VOIP services are providing!! Such as Call Fwding, Call Blocking, 2nd Line cloned for free- so 2 ppl can be on the same line {same #} in the same household- at the same time!!! Good for a busy household w/ more than 3 ppl in there.

    ALso- free 60 min. of international calling per mo.

    take a peek!

    PhonePower.com

    VOIP.com

    VOIPo.com

    What do U guys think? Would love to hear your feedback- I Myself- have to choose a VOIP vendor because VZN traditional landline- sucks in the
    CSR customer+features/Service depreciation dept- COSTS APPRECIATE every month!/ COST to benefit ratio sucks!/ dept!!

  34. Ooma is once again running a deal where you can get $40 off plus Free shipping on a Ooma Telo (the discounted price is $139.99). Just go to the following link and use the code (removed, no self-promotion in comments).

    I have had a Ooma for about half a year and I love it. The call quality has been very good. I am even thinking about getting one, setting it up the US, and then taking it overseas so that I can call relatives without having to make international calls (plus they can call me too). I would only have to pay the monthly taxes…

    I have already saved over $300 on my phone bill in 6 months; after accounting for the $139.99 cost for the Telo, I have already saved approximately $150.

  35. Ooma SUCKS! I have had it for over a year. Yes it’s cheap, but you get what you pay for. The system works just fine for a short period of time, and then out of the blue it just stops working. I cannot connect to the Internet and can still make and receive calls on my landline, but you cannot hear the person on the other end or receive voicemails. This is not only annoying but useless if there is an emergency, because in that case you do not have time to diagnose the problem with Ooma while you are trying to reboot and mess with the wires to get it running again. I wish that my husband would let us go back to the basic AT&T package. I would not recommend Ooma to anyone, unless you love to be frustrated and confused. I’m investing in cell phones today for my three children because it’s safer! My cheapskate husband is not going too be happy when he gets home from work.

  36. DollarBill says:

    I have a toll-free 888 number that I use for personal, not business, use. Can I port the 888 number to Ooma? If so is there any additional charge for the 888 number?

  37. Jonathon (or someone else if familiar) If I require a landline for DSL Internet service what are my options if I would like to go to a device/service such as Ooma? Any suggestions/recommendations would be very appreciated.

  38. I sue Ooma on my DSL connection no problem. I dropped paying for phone service. We love our Ooma.

  39. Jack you can try naked DSL if offered in your area. I got cheapest ATT&T uverse pkg and Ooma works very good. No problems at all. And I haven’t heard any of my friends having any problems with Ooma either. Not sure why Sarah is saying Ooma is bad. The voice quality is so good. Wish cellphones were half as good.

  40. @DollarBill – You can check porting availability here

    https://go.ooma.com/phone_numbers

    @Jack – Yes I’d check if your DSL provider offers naked DSL without phone line, many of them do now that didn’t before. Alternatives are to ask for what the rock bottom cheapest service plan is (some are even metered by the minute) or explore switching to cable internet.

  41. I have had Ooma for a year or two and have been very happy. I was really happy when I had a dryer fire (electrical, wires came loose inside!) and the 911 service worked perfectly.

    Only drawback so far: I’ve been unable to get the caller ID name changed, so whatever registry they work with might be limited and people still see the wrong name (at least on Verizon) when I call a land line. Cell phone works fine because it uses personal phone book on the cell phone to ID the call.

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