Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not Thurman - But Phone

A few years ago I switched from Vonage to Comcast for our home phone line.   You might wonder why anyone would want a home phone line - and I would reply that for things like security systems on your house it is always easier to have a home phone.  (Notice I did not say land line because Vonage and Comcast and even a good bit of AT&T is done using Voice Over Internet Protocol or VOIP.)

I switched because Vonage service, at the time, was horrible.  The router they gave me was klutzy.   Their customer service was not English enabled.  Comcast was better but expensive. (about $20 per month and their international rates are not great)   But Comcast also did not do well in my house.  I called their service a couple of times and they argued that my crackly voice problems were based on "herz interference" which meant that their router was picking up the frequencies on my cordless phone system.

Then I discovered a new device called an Ooma.  I read the reviews - they are uniformly wonderful.  I spoke to their customer service people - they are communicative.  I found out that they included in the device a signal processor which improves voice quality.   So I bought one (about $200).   I also signed up for the Premium Service which costs $120 per year but allows you to port your existing number.   When I called to register the device I spoke with an agent who said, you need to be near your device when we set it up - I said when can we do that and she said pick a time - I picked one eight hours hence and she said fine.  At the appointed time, she called me, we went through the steps to set it up and in five minutes, I had my new phone system.

There are all sorts of options on the device like a bluetooth converted to allow you to use your bluetooth device on the network(so your cellular phone can be used at home); a WIFI converter which allows you to connect the device outside of an ethernet connection to your router.   They also offer handsets for about $50 per unit.

What is more they offer a iPhone (or Android) APP which can allow you to be a part of the network anywhere in the world where you have WIFI.  That reduces your expense when you are in a foreign country.

From my initial impressions - this is an intelligently designed device that has a lot of features but with one caution.  VOIP systems work when your network does - so if your internet goes down so does your phone.   In the early days of VOIP that was a problem.   In the last couple of years with Comcast that has not been a problem and I do not expect it to be going forward.

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