Ooma Dialog

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Rich Tehrani
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Ooma Dialog

I wrote a blog entry titled Ooma Hysteria a few months back. A point I made in the entry is that ooma calls can potentially be tapped by users. Others commenting in the blog agreed. The company’s Chief Technologist Jeff Peck recently commented on their technology and didn’t share how they can keep calls from being tapped. He did however reinforce the fact that the calls are secure. Here is our dialog.

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RE: Ooma Hysteria
For many years, people said "you cannot stand an egg on its end" and they had the empirical evidence to support that argument. Then Columbus (allegedly) comes along and does it... These days we know many ways to get an egg to stand on its end, from high viscosity atmospheres, to zero-g orbitals, to vibrating tables.
When people say "it can't be done" that may simply mean *they* don't know how to do it.
 
Jeff Peck
Chief Technologist
ooma, Inc.
 
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My Response:

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Thank you all for the great comments. To Jeff Peck, I haven't tried your service and indeed you are right -- I haven't thought of a way to connect calls to the PSTN without allowing phone taps from the customer’s house.
 
To be honest, in addition to making an egg stand on its end, I have trouble making a decent omelette. ;)
 
But seriously, I understand the reason not to share how you keep your calls from being tapped. I certainly would want to keep this information confidential as well.
 
But the reality is that in my history in telecom I have never seen a concept so controversial. Even if you are able to pull off what you say -- it is obvious based on numerous blog entries and comments on these blog entries that almost no one in the communications industry believes you.
 
Some of these people -- unfortunately for your company, are the very same ones who get quoted in major publications regarding your technology.
 
So if you are looking to have this service go mainstream at some point, you need to tackle this problem.
 
I see two ways to do this:
 
The first is to get a number of high profile telecom people to sign NDAs and share the information with them. They can comment on what you do without giving away the crown jewels. At least they can verify you are correct.
 
The second is to go public with some of what you do and rely on your patents to protect you. I did a quick patent search and don’t see any applications from your company. With the news that Vonage was sued by yet another service provider this past week it likely makes sense to start applying for patents rather quickly to ensure your success does not get sued into oblivion.
 
So Jeff, I wish you luck. Any company who can come up with a brand new way to provide VoIP service in a space rife with top engineers and massive amounts of financial resources deserves to be congratulated. I am looking forward to seeing how your company addresses this situation and continues to grow.
 
Here is that blog post again if anyone wants to join this conversation.


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