Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ooma wants to be the new VoIP IP Telephony service

At First I thought it was Oma, meaning Grand Mother in Dutch! But it sounds the same if I am pronouncing it right.
So the Silicon Valley start up is coming out with VoIP service that offers a fancy gateway that is called a HUB and an extension called Ooma Scout. My Grand ma was a Girl Scout!
Anyway the Ooma has a unique approach. You pay in the form of purchasing the devices the HUB and the SCOUT and you get all local calls free. will also offer a free second line, conference calling, voice mail service and an online "lounge" where users may change their preferences or get voice mail in an e-mail format. More I investigate, hub is a Voip(broadband)/PSTN gateway with voice mail and some more bells and whistles added.
The Hub is said to be $399.00 and the company will start selling the devices Thursday with an invitation-only offer to select U.S. residents. I think it has to be by invitation because, a few will part with $400 after SunRocket took off with all those prepaid $199 a year accounts! and without recourse. It is not clear about the hub and the codecs and protocols it uses. Are the proprietary? Or are they compatible with any VoIP server like SER or Asterisk? If the answer is no to the latter, my $400 will stay in my pocket. I have too many VoIP gateways that I don't use.(Can't use!).

"It's nothing like anything a carrier can do currently," CEO Andrew Frame said. "Once you own the box, you don't have to pay ooma anything in the future." unless you make long distance calls.

Frame also says you have to pay again to Ooma, if you want to make long distance calls. the way they plan to make money. So far I know they offer 1 Cent per minute to Europe (Not clear if cellular calls included) and 8 cents to India. Not much different from other carriers.

So far I know very little about the technology and the methodology. But from guessing from the tid bits from various sources, one can achieve the same with Skype and some of the gateways listed at, consumer and enterprise versions are offered, they are much cheaper and could be used with any VoIP provider. Then there are a bunch of Skype Phones from the likes of Linksys and polycomm that cost less than $100 and plugs in to any broadband service!

The difference seem to be that Ooma will use your gateway (Hub) to terminate local calls to numbers that are not on Ooma network! We use to have such network in early 2000s when every one did not have broadband connections and wanted to make cheap VoIP calls. So we used to volunteer our phone line for greater good, until we found that software always did not find the correct termination number and called numbers beyond your free local call Zone, as pacbell used to call them! May be they have improved the technology! and a patent for improved technology?
Ooma seem to have patent-pending call-routing algorithm called "distributed termination," similar to peer-to-peer and distributed computing ideas. I would like to know how much is this different from that of Skype's solution, which is also a distributed P2P other than hub having PSTN call capabilities.

Don't take my word for it, follow this link to learn more about Ooma, (I could not, there is no much information) I would not call my users white rabbits, then again you can give a call to your Oma, Grandma, that you have been putting off, using any phone at hand!
I learned about it here.


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