, a new VoIP provider, hopes to bring voice calling everywhere closer to "free". In fact, Ooma offers 100% free domestic U.S. calling using your standard analog/cordless phone to any domestic destination. (They charge for international) I'm sure Vonage, Packet8, and other broadband VoIP players aren't too thrilled with this.
With Ooma you shell out mad money - $399 - which gets you a sleek Ooma Hub with lifetime free local and long distance service. I can't help but think of SunRocket's failed $199 per year
Anyway, the Ooma Hub connects to your Internet connection and your landline, which is then shared with other Ooma users. Essentially the Ooma box is a local gateway for other Ooma users. It's worth mentioning that it uses your regular landline for 911 calling which helps get around liability issues.
You can extend Ooma to other parts of your house using $40 Ooma Scouts. So what's the catch? Well, Ooma boxes act similar to Skype P2P supernodes, essentially using your spare bandwidth to route other Ooma users' calls. According to Walt Mossberg
who reviewed Ooma, "To build its network, Ooma will be seeding the country with 1,500 boxes over the summer. These will be provided free of charge. But the only way to get one, if you aren’t on the initial list, is to know somebody who has one. Each recipient gets three tokens — redeemable for a free Ooma — to give to others."
Damn it, why am I not on this initial list? I'll see if I can snag a review unit. Stay tuned.
Just learned that Ashton Kutcher is the Creative Director for Ooma. Yes, that Ashton Kutcher of Punk'd and That 70s Show fame. Talk Crunch has a podcast interview
with Ashton and the founder of Ooma.
Let's just hope customers paying out the $399 don't get Punk'd like the SunRocket customers were.
Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster, is also part of Ooma.