Ode to Ooma – Why I Still Have A Home Phone

I have been the proud owner of an Ooma Telo for the past four years now. Before getting the Ooma, we had our home phone first through the actual telephone company with a real phone line (I’m old, I know), and then through a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol, or internet phone) setup with the phone company when the real telephone system (POTS, or Plain Old Telephone System) got too expensive.

Less people paying for the same fixed cost infrastructure = price increases, am I right?

Unfortunately even after switching to a VOIP I noticed the price creeping up, and up, and up again. I had started listening to Clark Howard and he kept singing the praises of something called an Ooma. So I decided to check it out. I picked one up off Amazon for a bit of a discount, and have used it ever since.

So I’ve decided to write a poem to outline what I love about the Ooma, based on Shakespere’s Sonnet 18.

,Shall I compare thee to a plain old telephone system?
Thou art more lovely and more cost effective.
Alternatives, Ooma’s there when you list’em,
And it’s really just as connective.
Sometime too much the old bill grows,
And often is his gold wires disconnected;
And every dollar from dollar sometime throws,
Extra costs wasted; the bill dis-affected;
But thy eternal price difference shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of the equipment,
Nor shall Comcast or others away me swayed,
When in eternal inexpensive shipment, 
So long as phones can dial, or I can see,
So long lives this, and this is savings key.

Yeah, I know, there’s a reason I went into IT instead of poetry. But that’s OK, I’m still going to tell you all about why some people still need a home phone, and why I think the Ooma rocks.

Note, this post isn’t sponsored by Ooma. I just love it and want to help spread the word. I do have a referral link to share with you, though, where you and I can both get a $20 gift card from them! If you’ve been thinking about ditching your high priced internet phone provider, this is a great bonus for you. 

I decided to put up a real picture of my actual Ooma here, instead of a nicer looking picture from online, to show you that I really do have and love this device. The thing next to it is a display of my home security camera, which I got at BJ’s on a Black Friday sale.

Why Would You Need A Home Phone?

Many of you out there might be asking just that question. After all, many people no longer have a home phone at all. In fact about half of all households don’t have one. Why would I need one? Why can’t I just use my cell phone?

Great questions. There are only two reasons I still have a home phone, and there’s a third reason that doesn’t apply to me but could apply to someone else. Once these reasons change, I’ll drop it altogether:

1 – I don’t get good cell service in my house.

I get great WiFi service, but horrible cell service, in my house. I just realized while doing research for this article that I might be able to change my settings to make calls over WiFi when available! So exciting. Then I checked it out, and of course, my phone isn’t eligible because it’s too old. Darn it!

I’m not alone –  other people may have this issue in their homes, and need to have an alternative option available when in their house. One option is to get a cell phone signal booster, so you can look into that too if this is your only issue.

2 – My Kids Don’t Have Cell Phones

Believe it or not, none of my three kids has a cell phone. Even the teenager who’s spent the past three years attending a school about 45 minutes away doesn’t have a cell phone. He’s asked for one a few times, but I don’t see that it’s necessary yet. I seem to be in the minority, though, because something like 88% of teens have a cell phone.

Given that my kids don’t have cell phones, they need a way to make phone calls from the house. Say I’ve let my 13 year old stay home for a while as I run errands with the other two boys. He needs to be able to make emergency calls, right? A home phone gives him that option.

One of the last teens in the US without a cell phone, with his brothers.

Also when the kids are home being babysat by Grandma, their grandmothers both (1) don’t get cell service in the house and (2) rarely remember to bring their phones/keep them on/keep them charged. Without a home phone, there would be no way for them (or my kids) to make calls from the house in case of an emergency.

I’ve run into this problem before when my mother in law decided to take my oldest son out for lunch after picking him up from a scout camping trip. Oops, her cell phone died, so no one knew where she was for an hour or so. Sooooo frustrating.

3. Not Everyone Has Cell Phones

Yes, my husband and I do have cell phones, so this reason doesn’t apply to us. But not everyone in the US has a cell phone. Cell phone ownership is at 95% now, apparently, but that leaves 5% that don’t have one. Those folks need a good, inexpensive home phone option.

And even though 95% of households now have a cell phone, I bet many of the cell phone owners are like my parents and my in-laws. Sure, they technically “have” a cell phone, but it spends a lot of time being unused/left in drawers/not charged and so on. Those cell phone owners may still need a reliable home phone option.

Advantage of the Ooma

So we’ve established why I have a home phone, and why others might need one. But what’s the advantage of the Ooma specifically? There are a few that I know of from using it for four years:

Cost: You buy the equipment and you pay no phone bill – ever. You just pay taxes/fees, which comes out to about $4 per month. My old phone bills with internet phone service were about $50 per month. Over the past four years I would have spent $2,400 on my old home phone service (probably more, as the price would have continued to increase). Instead I’ve paid around $192 for the bills, and another $150 for the equipment and phone number port. Total savings? Over $2,000. And guess what? Now the equipment is only $100, so you’re going to save more than I did.

Think of all the things you can do with $2,000. You can go on vacation. Heck, you could go on several vacations if you enjoy camping. You could spend $200 on amazing weekends for ten weekends in a row. You can make a pretty substantial improvement to your house. It’s a great start to an emergency fund. You can do a lot with an extra two thousand dollars in your pocket!

By the way, this concept holds true even if you’re not looking to save specifically on home phones. Saving $25 or $50 per month on cable, home phone, internet, insurance, or any other recurring bill adds up tremendously over time.  

Easy Setup and Good Service: When we got the Ooma, we were able to set up up that night from the instructions. The phone number port was also easy, costing a nominal fee (now $39.99, although it was less a few years ago).  Whenever I had questions, I was able to get answers quickly online or by calling.

Reliable: The Ooma is as reliable as your WiFi connection. I think I’ve only had one incident that I’m aware of in the four years where the Ooma went down even though WiFi was up. Every other time, the WiFi has gone down which would take down any VOIP system. This is, of course, one advantage of the regular telephone system-it works not only when WiFi goes down, but also when the power goes out. Yep, that’s right, it doesn’t need electricity. Neat, huh?

Many Options: You can be like me and go basic – just get the Telo system base, pick up the handsets at BJ’s or Costco (or using your existing ones), and call it a day. Or you can go all out, getting a security system, premier plan for $10 a month (which comes with call forwarding, an instant second line so two people can use it the phone at once, and cool interactions with various other devices like Nest). It’s up to you! If you own a business Ooma has some good options for you as well.

If You Need A Home Phone, You Need To Check It Out

I love my Ooma so much I convinced my parents to switch as well – they switched over a few months after I did, and they also love it. I often post on my town’s Facebook forum to recommend it. And now I’m recommending it to you too.

If this is something you want to try, remember to use my referral link so we can both get a $20 reward!

Now I’m curious – do you have a home phone, and if so, why? Or did you ditch it long ago in favor of your cell phone? Let me know in the comments!

Want to learn more about teaching kids about money? Check out this great page with my top articles and resources I’ve found from around the web.

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13 thoughts on “Ode to Ooma – Why I Still Have A Home Phone”

  1. AdventureRich

    Oooh, I didn’t think about the kids and cell phones part. We don’t have a landline but that could be a really good reason to get one when AR Jr. gets a bit older if viable options are still out there!

  2. We’ve had Ooma for about seven years now and yep, my bill is about $4 a month. It’s really great to have a home phone line that’s so cheap. I’ve been very happy with Ooma all this time!

  3. DadsDollarsDebts

    We used an internet phone service when living in Argentina. It gave us a US number and the ability to make US calls easily. It was great. Currently we are phone free, but I suspect when our son gets older we might make the purchase.

    Nice poetry! You are really flexing the writing muscles.

  4. We have always had one and will continue for exactly the reasons you have: young kids who stay at home alone and grandparents who have no idea where their phone is and of course it’s dead 🙂

    We’ve been held back by going this route because our internet service is through our phone. It seems like in Pittsburgh where we are, there’s either Verizon or Comcast (we don’t have cable), and the price is very similar for straight internet (our bill actually goes up with Verizon according to them when I called to ask). We’d love to do this, so am I missing a way to get internet without one of those two?

    1. That’s interesting-my internet (through a company called Frontier, its DSL) + Ooma is significantly less than the bundled internet and home phone packages. I’d recommend checking again for a quote on straight internet. There do look to be a few additional providers in Pittsburgh, when I did a quick google search, although the ones you mentioned are the biggest. It looks like Xfinity might have a $40 per month special. It’s always worth checking around regularly!

  5. We’ve had Ooma for over 3 years. We were paying $70 month for our home phone (with a North America long distance plan). Ooma is $4.50/month. We also pay $99/year for the premier version extras. I love it and have saved over $2000 since switching.

  6. Heather Mayfield

    We have had magic jack for 5+ years. However, it was becoming unreliable and then one day the device stopped work. We considered ooma but didn’t really want a monthly fee along with the initial cost of the unit. After some research learned about obi. It works with Google phone number (free to sign up for) and there is no cost past the initial obi device. We love it. The quality is better then we used to get with magic jack.

    1. I had thought about magic jack but heard that it had become unreliable. I never heard of obi-sounds interesting! I just looked it up and it looks like it’s a great deal.

  7. I have told my daughters that they had to wait until they were 14 to get a cell phone. They are 10 and 8 now. I discovered RelayGo which is part of Republic Wireless. The cool thing is it is a button, no screen, no numbers to call. You can communicate with them with your cell phone to their square. It is $7/month per square and I believe it has GPS tracking so they can actually wander around and you can still communicate with them and track them. Also, they can talk to other friends who also have RelayGo like walkie talkies as it runs over a cellular line so range isn’t an issue. I have friends who love it and it gives them freedom to let their kids be home by themselves…

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