Ooma looks to end long distance phone charges

July 19, 2007

Ooma looks to end long distance phone charges There’s a new combatant in the battle for VoIP supremecy named Ooma, and its bringing a whole new bag of tricks.

For $399 you can purchase an Ooma device that will route your calls using a mixture of Internet and landlines to get your call where it’s going.  This is a one time expense and will give you free long distance calls for life.

You plug the box in to your broadband connection, and if you have a landline, that goes in also.  While your calls are being routed over the Internet, if another Ooma user calls someone within 12 miles of you, and that person doesn’t have a device, they will borrow your old phone line to finish the call.  You won’t notice this happening as your calls are routed around that traffic.

The theory is that this is akin to the peer-to-peer sharing principle, but it sounds more like a need for a very large user base.  While things are setting up, Ooma will cover the costs if they have to switch over to traditional lines to complete a call.

There are going to be several hurdles to be crossed for this brash new entrant into the highly competitive VoIP market.  First off is the initial price tag is a scary number for the average consumer.  Secondly, the technology is so convoluted, the common household will get a headache trying to figure out when this device will actually work.  Third, and this may be the biggest problem of them all, the demise of Sunrocket this week has damaged consumer confidence in VoIP carriers.

Sunrocket subscribers have been left hanging with little to no information of what is to become of them, and if they will ever get pro-rated refunds for their subscriptions. 

With the $399 being paid up-front for “free calls for life”, people will certainly have to wonder just how long that life may be.

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