Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Ooma Telo VOIP

I bought one of these gadgets today:

I have been looking at VOIP solutions for a while. Cellular coverage near my house in Kula totally sucks, so I rarely use my mobile when I'm at home. My mobile winds up being strictly a business phone. I continue to have a home phone, really, out of habit. I do probably 75% of my voice communicating via SKYPE.

My monthly phone bill from Hawaii Telcom runs about $33. I also get a bill from ATT every month for about $12 for long distance access. So I was paying $45 a month for virtually nothing, except for calls from the occasional telemarketer. I looked at Vonage, which is about $30 / month. Oceanic Time Warner Cable has VOIP available, but it was also about $30 / month.

I heard about this Ooma Telo gadget, which has no recurring costs, and I found one online for $220. I figured what the hell, I'll give it a try. Ending my current arrangements with Hawaii Telcom / ATT will pay for the Telo well before the end of the year.

I hooked it up and it installed itself fine, first try. Voice quality is good. Probably not quite as good as a hard line, but as good as the best SKYPE calls. And I had SUCH fun calling Kumar from the ATT call center in Islamabad, and Vijay from the Hawai'i Telcom call center in Bombay, and telling them to cancel my service, effective immediately.

Ooma says for a one-time charge of $40 you can "port" your current number to the Telo. I found out that's true, but there's a catch, if your house is in Hawaii. Evidently Hawaii has so few phone subscribers that there is a substantial surcharge to use ANY 808 number. The charge, shockingly, is $20 a month in perpetuity. What kind of scam is THAT? It's not Ooma's fault. It's just another case of the paradise tax that's attached to pretty much everything in the State of Hawai'i.

I decided having an 808 number really has no value to me, so I got an (801) 337- number (Huntsville, Utah) because (A) 801 numbers are free (B) Utah has been my 2nd home for the past few years, and (C) I plan to buy a pied a terre in Huntsville in the near future, anyway. Why Huntsville? Because Huntsville, fellow powder skiing junkies, is the town in which the mighty, mighty ski resort of Snowbasin is located. Snowbasin is my "home" resort. I also consider Kitzb├╝hel to be my home resort, too. I'm a card-carrying member of the Kitzb├╝heler Ski Club. But it would be silly for me to have an Austrian (+43) home telephone number.

Utah has The Greatest Snow On Earth. Says so right on the license plates.

It turns out there is a small recurring monthly cost for using the Telo. You have to pay local 911 taxes according to your location as determined by your ZIP code. In Kula, the taxes run about $3 a month.

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