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Ooma Quirks

Overall, I’m still pretty happy with our Ooma system.  However, I have run into a few quirks:

  • If you want to use call screening (where you can hear the caller leaving a message on the answering machine), you either have to pay for Ooma Premier or put an answering machine on Ooma’s output phone line and set it to answer before Ooma’s answering machine.
  • If you have a regular phone line connected to the Ooma, Ooma will use it when calling out all local calls, not just for 911 emergency calls.  This can be a problem if you’re on a metered local plan and make enough local calls.
  • Apparently, this option can be changed, but Ooma won’t make the change anymore.
  • However, everyone on the forums recommends totally splitting your lines: Ooma connected to Internet only, local phone line connected to a different phone.  You do get extra features for free this way, for example, caller ID.
  • Ooma occasionally changes their web interface around.  For example, the connection tone option (Ooma plays a special sound when the connection is made) has been removed.

Some final Ooma notes:

  • The Ooma forums are pretty useful.
  • Broadband options are a pain.  For example, here in Silicon Valley, dry loop DSL costs about the same as DSL + metered local phone service: $40/month or so versus about $41/month ($22 + $19; unlimited local is ~$27).  Cable internet without cable TV isn’t any better.  Clear isn’t a good option unless  I could bundle home + mobile, but their coverage doesn’t work for me.
  • So for right now, I’m sticking with DSL at home + metered phone, with the Ooma and local phones separate: the Ooma is connected to a cordless phone (plus maybe later an answering machine if Caller ID doesn’t work well for call screening), and the phone line is connected to a different cordless phone/answering machine.

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