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Alternatives to Ooma
Old 03-12-2019, 11:57 AM   #1
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Alternatives to Ooma

The thread about recent upticks in spam/junk calls got me thinking about how my Ooma home phone service works. I ditched my AT&T landline about 4 years ago in favor of an Ooma Telo device and their basic "free" monthly plan. It now costs me about $5/month (regulatory fees and taxes) as opposed to over $40/month when I had the AT&T line.

However... I'm starting to question the actual value of Ooma. Sure, it's only $5/month, but with the free version I can't do anything about the 2-3 spam/junk calls I'm getting every day. I can't even block specific, known spam numbers with Ooma Basic. They only allow that functionality if you upgrade to Ooma Premier, which would essentially triple the monthly cost ($15). Even though those spam/junk calls annoy me, I'm not sure paying $120 more per year to silence them would be a good value for the money.

With all that said, does anyone know of a good, free (or very low cost) VOIP service that allows for automatic spam/junk call blocking? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be willing to pay more than $10 per month for such a service, including all taxes and fees. I could pay $15/month for this with Ooma, after all, and I've decided against that for now.

Two other related questions, if you'd like to chime in on them:
1) How valuable is spam/junk call blocking to you, in dollars per month?
2) Do you place any value in having a landline-like phone (VOIP or traditional) at your primary residence, or do you simply use your cell phone for all calling?
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Old 03-12-2019, 01:07 PM   #2
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Spammers are spoofing phone numbers. The target for call blockers keeps moving. I set my office line with no ringer. Ocansionally look over at it. Oh...there's a message. Pick up...delete
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Old 03-12-2019, 01:36 PM   #3
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I prefer a one time payment for app and/or device than a monthly payment. A monthly payment can always increase. Also, I think and app and/or hardware device is more in my control.

I have both a landline and cell phone. A landline is kind of a splurge as I'm paying about $70/month just for unlimited nationwide calling. My cell, I use mostly for texting and web browsing when traveling (and time wasting).

I like having a landline as I don't want to be constantly charging my cell phone. Plus, I think the call quality still is better with a landline.

My call blocking strategy is as follows ...

Landline: Sentry Call Blocker v2. List based. Calls not on my accept list get screened at first ring and a recording with a mean man's voice says if the caller has no business calling, the remove me from their telemarketing list.

Mobile:

- For calls - free Android app named "Call blocker" (yeah, I know, generic name). List based. Set to only allow calls through from people on my contact list. Otherwise routes to voice mail.

- For texts - Android app (about $4) named Postman. Set to only allow texters from my contact list and those I mark as trusted. Others get flagged as spam and I can chose to trust and allow or not.


If you get a device like a Sentry call blocker, wouldn't that screen out callers before going to Ooma? I haven't tried Ooma but think that might work. Just a thought.
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Old 03-12-2019, 01:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
If you get a device like a Sentry call blocker, wouldn't that screen out callers before going to Ooma? I haven't tried Ooma but think that might work. Just a thought.
Thanks for this tip. This could be exactly what I need. I could place the Sentry device between my Ooma Telo and my phone handset, and it would operate exactly the same as with a traditional land line. Do you have any thoughts on the Sentry version 3 vs. version 2? Does it allow you to block "neighbor spoofing" calls, where the incoming call looks very similar to your own number?
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Old 03-12-2019, 01:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
The thread about recent upticks in spam/junk calls got me thinking about how my Ooma home phone service works. I ditched my AT&T landline about 4 years ago in favor of an Ooma Telo device and their basic "free" monthly plan. It now costs me about $5/month (regulatory fees and taxes) as opposed to over $40/month when I had the AT&T line.

However... I'm starting to question the actual value of Ooma. Sure, it's only $5/month, but with the free version I can't do anything about the 2-3 spam/junk calls I'm getting every day. I can't even block specific, known spam numbers with Ooma Basic. They only allow that functionality if you upgrade to Ooma Premier, which would essentially triple the monthly cost ($15). Even though those spam/junk calls annoy me, I'm not sure paying $120 more per year to silence them would be a good value for the money.

With all that said, does anyone know of a good, free (or very low cost) VOIP service that allows for automatic spam/junk call blocking? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be willing to pay more than $10 per month for such a service, including all taxes and fees. I could pay $15/month for this with Ooma, after all, and I've decided against that for now.

Two other related questions, if you'd like to chime in on them:
1) How valuable is spam/junk call blocking to you, in dollars per month?
2) Do you place any value in having a landline-like phone (VOIP or traditional) at your primary residence, or do you simply use your cell phone for all calling?
I have been quite pleased with the basic service from Ooma. Yes, they want to upsell to Premier but I don't blame them; after all, they have to monetize SOMETHING or else they'll be out of business soon.
Personally, I deal with spam/junk calls the same way I have been dealing with them for at least 30 years: I screen ALL my calls and simply ignore the ones I don't want to answer. This used to annoy many of my friends and relatives back in the 80-ies and early 90-ies, but in the meantime, people have gotten used to it. In fact, doesn't EVERYONE
screen calls these days?

I do like my land (VOIP) line quite a bit. That's mainly because my cell reception is poor at my house (in the middle of the city, go figure!), and because my cell service is through TING and I only get 100 minutes a month.
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Old 03-12-2019, 02:00 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sojourner View Post
Thanks for this tip. This could be exactly what I need. I could place the Sentry device between my Ooma Telo and my phone handset, and it would operate exactly the same as with a traditional land line. Do you have any thoughts on the Sentry version 3 vs. version 2? Does it allow you to block "neighbor spoofing" calls, where the incoming call looks very similar to your own number?
You are welcome. The two main advantages of Sentry v3 vs v2 from what I've read (I've only used v1 and v2) are that v3 has a keypad to enter numbers and also I think (not 100% sure) it carries over the name of caller. There's also an option to leave message and record your own greeting with v3 but from reviews I've read, the audio isn't the best. If I was buying as my first blocker, I'd probably get the v3 mostly because the list contains names. With v2, that only has numbers which is harder to separate going through a list.

With the Sentry blockers, you work off a list of allowed callers you create. Any caller not on that list gets screened. So yes, if a spoofer changes one digit away from someone on your list, that would get screened. I also added my own number as one to reject as spoofers are known to try and fool folks by spoofing to the receivers numbers.

You can see more about the Sentry v2 vs v3 here:

https://www.telsentry.com/
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Old 03-12-2019, 02:11 PM   #7
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A landline is kind of a splurge as I'm paying about $70/month just for unlimited nationwide calling.
Did you mean to say $70/year, or is it truly $70/month? If the latter, I don't see why the OP wouldn't just go with Ooma Premier for roughly $15/mo (w/fees).
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Old 03-12-2019, 02:39 PM   #8
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Did you mean to say $70/year, or is it truly $70/month? If the latter, I don't see why the OP wouldn't just go with Ooma Premier for roughly $15/mo (w/fees).
I'm paying about $70/month. ATT landline. I'm one of those suckers old fashioned types .
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Old 03-12-2019, 03:24 PM   #9
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What about a Bluetooth enabled phone like this...

https://www.amazon.com/AT-TL16013-Ex...roducts&sr=1-5

My Dad used this and it worked very well. Also, there are similar phones that can be used with Google Voice.
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Old 03-12-2019, 03:42 PM   #10
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I also have an Ooma and Pay the $5 a month.... My wife likes it, so we keep it.... When we travel to other countries we take along an OBI200 (about $50) and is the size of a hockey puck. Connect a Google Voice number to it (also Free) and you're good to go. Not totally Plug and Play, you have to set it up using the OBItalk site.... But not hard...



Just plug in a Phone and connect to a network.... We've used in Australia, Bahamas and recently Hawaii... Works great... Completely Free after you buy it.


https://www.obitalk.com/info/products/obi200
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Old 03-12-2019, 03:59 PM   #11
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I also have an Ooma and Pay the $5 a month.... My wife likes it, so we keep it.... When we travel to other countries we take along an OBI200 (about $50) and is the size of a hockey puck. Connect a Google Voice number to it (also Free) and you're good to go. Not totally Plug and Play, you have to set it up using the OBItalk site.... But not hard...



Just plug in a Phone and connect to a network.... We've used in Australia, Bahamas and recently Hawaii... Works great... Completely Free after you buy it.


https://www.obitalk.com/info/products/obi200
You seem to have experience with both Ooma and Obi. How would you compare the two?
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Old 03-12-2019, 04:05 PM   #12
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You seem to have experience with both Ooma and Obi. How would you compare the two?

Ooma is a 'Phone like Device' complete with answering machine... Good for neophytes.... Obi200 (They make a lot of different devices) is more of a network device and is more 'technical'....


I think if you dig deep in Obi, it may have even more features.... I have not explored all of the features as I Personally don't like phones at all... The only reason I use them is for my Non-Technical friends, Businesses... etc.... I prefer e-mail.
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Old 03-12-2019, 07:42 PM   #13
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I'm paying about $70/month. ATT landline. I'm one of those suckers old fashioned types .
OMG! You can use Google Voice with Hangouts on a computer / smartphone / iPad etc and make unlimited nationwide calls for free.
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Old 03-12-2019, 07:54 PM   #14
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We pay for Ooma Premier and had it switched to our old landline #. We have a white list/contacts and everything else goes to voicemail. It isn't the cheapest solution but it is very easy.
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Old 03-13-2019, 04:59 AM   #15
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We use Google Voice and the Obi-200 VoIP adapter for totally free landline phone service. IIRC, the Obi device sells for around $50 on Amazon. Set-up with GV is easy and well documented. Calls in the US and Canada are free and most international calls are 1-2 cents per minute. As mentioned earlier, GV is already free on PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc. The Obi-200 VoIP adapter just enables use with your existing landline handsets.

After 6 years, we rarely get robo/telemarketing calls of any kind. Google's spam call filtering appears to be extremely good. If one does get through, it's quite easy to block the number and report it as spam.

You get all the usual features like voicemail, call forwarding, call blocking, conference calling, caller ID, etc. One feature I really like is getting a notification on my mobile phone when I miss a call at home, including the voicemail transcription as a text. No 911 service though, so you'll need a cell for emergencies, or pay a small fee.
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Old 03-13-2019, 05:53 AM   #16
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I currently have a phone through mediacom, can I port that number to ooma or obi200? does anyone know how and which site to find that information?
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Old 03-13-2019, 07:50 AM   #17
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OMG! You can use Google Voice with Hangouts on a computer / smartphone / iPad etc and make unlimited nationwide calls for free.
Yeah, I know . One of the "there is savings to be had" things that I just haven't got around to. As I said, I'm one of the suckers old fashioned types.
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Old 03-13-2019, 09:17 AM   #18
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I currently have a phone through mediacom, can I port that number to ooma or obi200? does anyone know how and which site to find that information?
Only a mobile number can be ported to GV. But there's a well-documented 2-step process to port a landline number as well. Just sounds like a bit of a hassle to me. Google charges $20 plus there's some cost with the temporary port to a mobile number. I dumped the old landline number when we switched to GV+Obi. We had it for 30+ years, but it was was plagued with spam calls.

I've never used Ooma but after a quick Google search, it appears they charge $39.99 to port your old number and they say it takes several weeks. The fee is waived if you subscribe to Ooma Premier.
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Old 03-13-2019, 01:33 PM   #19
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OMG! You can use Google Voice with Hangouts on a computer / smartphone / iPad etc and make unlimited nationwide calls for free.
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We pay for Ooma Premier and had it switched to our old landline #. We have a white list/contacts and everything else goes to voicemail. It isn't the cheapest solution but it is very easy.

This thread has me thinking about the grass is greener on the other side as in Ooma basic. Not only would I'd be saving a lot over ATT's monthly fee but could brag that my OTA reception, internet,home phone and mobile added together would be under $100/month.
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Old 03-13-2019, 01:37 PM   #20
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