The time has come to bid goodbye to your landline. Install an Ooma and you're looking at nearly free home phone service for life.
Rick BroidaSenior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
This is an update of a deal I've written about a few times before. But it was a really popular one, and now it's even cheaper.
It's time to cut the cord, landline-wise. In my house, phone service arrives over the interwebs, and has for as long as I can remember. The delivery mechanism? Ooma. Total cost for my home phone? Zero. (Well, very close to zero. Read on.)
If you're ready to tell your telco buh-bye, here's a replacement that should pay for itself in about two months: Today only, and while supplies last, Woot has the refurbished Ooma Telo home phone system for $79.99, plus $5 for shipping. That's the lowest price I've seen yet.
The Telo is a touch-operated, answering machine-style black box that plugs into your router. (You'll need broadband Internet service for this, natch.) You then plug your existing cordless-phone base unit into the Telo. Presto: you've got dial tone, same as if you were still using a POTS line.
Once you own this hardware (which sells new for $149.99), you're looking at nearly free local and long-distance phone service -- forever. Your only bill will be for taxes and fees, which in my area come to around $3.50 per month.
That said, you might want to consider paying a little more. The included Ooma Basic service affords a handful of phone features: caller ID, voice mail, and so on. If you want extras like free calling to Canada, a second line, three-way calling, call forwarding (in the event of an Internet outage), and voice mail delivered via email, you'll need Ooma Premier, which runs $9.99 per month. (Best feature by far: call blacklisting, meaning you can block telemarketers and other unwanted callers.)
Also, porting your existing number costs $39.99 -- unless you prepay for a year of Premier ($119.99), in which case it's free.
So, yeah, Ooma does nickel-and-dime you a bit, but most of the extras are optional. And if you're currently paying, say, $35 per month for basic landline service, $120 for a full year of goodies is a great deal.
As for quality, I've been an Ooma user for about four years and couldn't be more satisfied. Even with the Telo installed "behind" my router (rather than in front, which is the recommended setup), call quality is much better than I ever got from Vonage. As for Ooma's customer service, I can't really comment because I've never had cause to use it. Everything just works.
I realize lots of folks are abandoning their landlines altogether in favor of cell phones, but it's still a lot more convenient to have traditional cordless phones scattered around the house. Safer, too, as there's more likely to be a phone within reach in case of emergency. At just $80, this is hard to pass up.