Since the whole family has mobile phones, we don’t use our home phone much. Somehow, we still manage to get billed $40 to $60 a month. We tried VOIP service in the past but the quality was lousy. There were noticeable time lags and the signal would fade in/out.
Since then, the technology has improved. Skype now works nicely, even for calls to landlines. The ideal VOIP service has excellent sound quality, works with your current phones and doesn’t require a computer.
MagicJack PlusI was thinking of trying magicJack Plus but the website looks amateurish and gimmicky. There’s a reference to a PC Magazine Editor’s Choice award from 2008 for an older product that required you to leave your computer on. Isn’t that misleading?
I could not find the pricing or return policy. The cost seems to be $70 for hardware and $100 for five years of service. If you prepay, you’re trusting the magicJack company to stay in business.
Check out the lawsuits on Wikipedia and the reviews on Amazon (2.7 stars) and The Gadgeteer (1,500+ comments).
VonageWith Vonage, you pay $12/month for 300 outgoing minutes to the US/Canada. Who wants a meter? Unlimited costs $25/month. There may be additional charges and taxes. Unappealing.
Ooma Whooma?We trust Costco for excellent products, reasonable prices and risk-free return policies. We never heard of Ooma before but decided to get the Ooma Telo. The device costs $180+tax, which includes a WiFi adapter. This is important because you want to place your device in a convenient location without worrying about ethernet cables.
You get countrywide phone calls for “free” … but pay for taxes and fees. There’s a calculator. For us, the cost is $4 a month.
For $10/month, you get Ooma Premier with lots of nifty features: US/Canada calling, better Caller ID, call forwarding, a second phone number (which can be in a different city) and more. Since you’re not always home, you can have your mobile phone ring at the same time as your home phone. If you don’t answer, the voicemail gets converted to an MP3 file and sent to you at one or more email addresses.
None of this matters if the service is lousy.
The TrialInstalling Ooma was easy. You select a phone number during the process. That lets you experiment without losing your current service. To our surprise, the sound quality is generally as good as our landline.
We forwarded calls from our landline to our new Ooma phone number. Callers didn’t notice problems with the quality. There were occasional glitches but they may have been caused by the caller’s equipment. To improve call quality, Ooma claims to give your call priority over other Internet traffic. This is handy if you have other users at home.
Another surprise is Ooma’s phone support. I’ve called several times and a real human answered within seconds.
The GlitchWe decided to move our home phone number to Ooma. The porting process takes up to a month and you must keep your landline in service until the transfer takes place.
For some reason, our landline got disconnected on Friday before the porting was finished. On Saturday, I called Ooma and they said the fault was with Primus and they could not complete the transfer until our landline was restored. I called Primus and was told they received instructions to disconnect our line, we might have lost our old number, and that getting service restored would not start until after the weekend.
I’m annoyed at Primus. They could have phoned or emailed before disconnecting our service. You’d think they would want to retain customers. Also, I called twice (via Ooma) and spent a total of 50 minutes on hold.
I don’t know who did what but on Monday we had full service with Ooma. That was weeks ago. We’ve been happy ever since.
- Ooma website
- Costco Ooma page (Canada)
- Amazon reviews: Ooma Telo, MagicJack Plus
- The horror of Rogers ‘Ultimate’ Internet
- Repairing your computer vs fixing your finances
- The new prescription for trust
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PS We have the fastest Internet service available to us; 75 Mbps. Results may be worse with slower speeds.