Silicon Valley startup Ooma wants to shake up the telecommunications industry with a $400 device that provides free, unlimited domestic phone calls for homes with broadband Internet service.
Although VoIP has been around for a while, few people have been willing to ditch their landline altogether in favor of less expensive VoIP services. This can be attributed to many factors such as the inability to connect to 911 emergency call centers (although there are workarounds), or having to rely on an internet connection.
However, the startup claims to differ radically from current VOIP providers. Ooma allows users to keep their current phone number and it easily integrates with their regular phone service as a backup, for 911 calls, and in case the internet service goes out. Users plug in the so-called Hub and get lifetime free, unlimited domestic calls, local or long distance. International calls will be charged at rates similar to other VoIP services like Skype.
"It's nothing like anything a carrier can do currently," CEO Andrew Frame said. "Once you own the box, you don't have to pay Ooma anything in the future."
Assuming Ooma can guarantee it will survive a lifetime, this sounds like a good deal. And the timing for the announcement couldn’t be better, coming just days after VoIP company SunRocket went out of business, while Vonage has been battered by legal problems in recent months, leaving thousands of subscribers looking for alternative services. Ooma plans to roll out its service in September.