Ooma have come up with a new approach to residential and small business VoIP. They have gone away from the pure cloud hosted method whereby the service provider supplies only a small connector to allow the customer to plug there standard telephones into their internet connection. Instead, Ooma sells the customer a much more intelligent on-premises tabletop box that provides a lot more than simple Ethernet to telco connectivity.
What it is and how it works?
Ooma Telo is a dedicated router with advanced quality of service algorithms and data compression techniques that allow it to condition the voice traffic before sending the packets over the internet. By using advanced compression Ooma are able to claim that they can significantly improve the quality of VoIP calls over the internet. Improving VoIP call quality is a major goal of every VoIP service provider and Ooma believe that by applying on-premises voice traffic condition Ooma can provide improved quality of the customer’s experience. In VoIP and networks, this is called QoE (quality of experience) and is now a vital parameter when determining system performance. Ooma believe their customer’s QoE is significantly higher than that of their rivals systems.
The problem tough is that the internet is notoriously unreliable for providing consistent states of low latency, low jitter and data loss. Ooma believes their routers intelligent handling of the traffic will assist them in transporting highly condensed and compressed traffic streams that will require less bandwidth and so be more tolerant of fluctuating levels of available bandwidth and overall network capacity.
In addition to providing packed compression and QoS (quality of service), the Ooma Telo can also support up to four wireless phones when connected using the compatible Telo Links. The Links is a convertor that converts a standard telephone socket into a wireless adapter that can then connect via Wi-Fi to the Ooma Telo box. Furthermore, the Telo Links communicates using a different network wireless protocol and frequency to the standard Wi-Fi networks so will not interfere with you existing data networks or other wireless devices. Consequently, you can happily connect up to four standard phones to Telo using a link connection for each and construct a mini VoIP network.
The downside to this though is that each Links adapter costs around $40-$50 so it is not exactly cheap, but it will be much more convenient and less messy than running cables.
As with most, if not all VoIP solution the Ooma supports a Smartphone app for iOS and Android. The Smartphone app allows calls to be received and made using the Ooma assigned telephone number as the caller ID. This is not so relevant today as it was a few years back when most Smartphone apps worked well for incoming calls but were hopelessly complex when making outbound calls. Never the less, Ooma handles both with ease and really is a comprehensive and polished application.
Similarly, so is the Ooma web portal, which you will need to connect to when, configuring the device for the first time or for performing basic administration tasks. The installation process is very straightforward and intuitive. All that is required is for you to input the registration code in the Ooma website – the code is on the bottom of the Telo box – fill out a form with your name, address and some details and then to select a number or chose to port your existing number, which is an additional $49. Once you have completed those few steps simply then hit activate.
When choosing a new virtual number instead of port an existing one, Ooma offers local telephone numbers for all US area codes and you can select one from any area – you do not need to reside there. This is similar to the virtual numbers offered by Vonagegr and others but is free and much easier to configure.
Connecting to the IoT (internet of Things)
One innovative feature of the Ooma Telo is that it can work with Nest devices such as their intelligent learning thermostat, lighting, smoke detectors and other security sensors. The Ooma can handle over 4000 sensors, but you surely will not need that many. The advantage of integrating with IoT sensors is that the Ooma gives them a way of communicating with you to let you know there has been a smoke detector triggered or a door opened when no one should be at home. Similarly, these gadgets and sensors can be used for home surveillance and monitoring the old and infirm by alerting you to preconfigured conditions. Moreover, pairing nest devices with Ooma Telo is easy just pair your Nest and Ooma accounts online.
Features and Capabilities
The Ooma Telo has all the basic features that you would expect from a VoIP system though it does not come close to matching the rich feature sets of Vonage and Phonepower, mainly because it supports standard phones rather than SIP phones. However when using the Ooma supplied handset with its own Ooma base set the feature list is more competitive and comprehensive. As is the Ooma premium set of features, at $9.99 per month. Premium comes with some notable features in the premium set which are typically included in the likes of Vonage and Phonepower’s standard sets. These features include three way conferencing, voicemail-to-email, multi-ring, which rings several devices at once, call forwarding, and free calls to Canada. There is however, a nice feature that allows you to block known marketers using a provided blacklist and to block anonymous calls hiding their caller id.
Ooma takes a different approach to pricing, they sell you a box for the price of a year’s Vonage subscription and some very basic features. To get the premium feature set costs another $9.99 per month, which along with the local taxes, which are unavoidable, makes Ooma less attractive than first looked. The problem is that you are paying premium prices for some very standard features, on top of a hefty up front price for the Telo box. However, in the second year, you will still be paying the premium fee, but that is now about half you would for a Vonage account ($24.99).
Ooma Telo is innovative an easy to use and set up, but it is not as cheap as it first looks especially if you think about adding more telephones using Ooma Link adapters. On the plus side, there are good basic features, nice technology with a well-designed tabletop box and accessories, an excellent Smartphone app and website. Additionally it has as expected good but not startling voice quality. This is simply because Ooma Telo is only really relying on proprietary voice packet compression rather than standard codex as QoS is not enforceable on the internet. On the down side, some features that should be standard are premium so you still will need a subscription unless you can live with Telco’s standard features. Other notable failings are expensive accessories, lack of SMS texting and no video support.
To signup and for further information Visit Ooma.com