Pros & Cons
- Affordable Hardware
- No Monthly Fees (for Basic Plan)
- Smart Home Monitoring
- Remote 911
- Smartphone App & Mobile Alerts
- Limited Home Security Capabilities
- Local Tax Charges
- Poor Customer Service
The Bottom Line
Ooma provides high-quality, affordable calling for less than competitive cable company internet phone plans. But it’s a VoIP system before all else. While Ooma is a powerful device and does have some functionality as a self-monitored security system, or even as a smart home hub, the device is too limited in these capacities. However, if you are already using Ooma for VoIP services, smart integrations enhance the experience.
Key Features & Tech
- VoIP (Voice over IP) system
- Call Forwarding
- Smart Home Monitoring
- Remote 911
- Mobile App & Alerts
Smart Home Monitoring
This feature, launched in 2017, allows for remote emergency calls, alerts, and access to the Smart Home Monitoring App. Smart Home Monitoring is free for Premier users or $5.99 per month for Basic subscribers.
Using the service, you will receive an alert (push, text, call, or email) if one of your Ooma sensors detects activity while armed. The Smart Home Monitoring service will give you the option of calling 911 from your home phone even when you’re away. What makes this feature unique is that it calls the dispatch center near your home no matter where you are, even if you’re on vacation thousands of miles away. The only other company currently offering this local 911 capability is Canary, and it’s certainly a unique home security benefit.
In addition to monitoring and local 911, Smart Home Monitoring will provide access to the Ooma Home Monitoring Mobile App (iOS or Android). Through the app, you can check the status of your sensors, set up notifications, arm or disarm your system using modes, or set up automated arm and disarm using geofencing. At CES, we saw a brief demo of the app and sensors. Every time the door opened, the smartphone received an instant notification. When the door shut, we also received a notification. The response was fast, and the app interface appeared friendly and easy to navigate.
Service Packages & Costs
Ooma offers two main service plans: Their free Basic Service and Ooma Premier.
Ooma charges $99 for their Ooma Telo hardware, which comes with Basic Service included, though you must pay taxes and fees. You can obtain an estimated monthly cost by inputting your zipcode here. For example, in our test, it appears Ooma charges approximately $5.00 per month for Basic Service.
For more features, you can also purchase Ooma Premier for $9.99/month. The difference between the two services is enough to put us all in the weeds, so we will break it down for you by focusing on the primary features and those that impact the services we will discuss below. Keep in mind that your purchase of the Ooma Telo will include a trial subscription to Premier.
Equipment & Hardware:
Depending on your needs, Ooma can be configured to provide a variety services: Ooma is a phone that can function as security system, protector of integrated devices, and a smart home player. Ooma is, before all else, a VoIP (voice over IP) system and their hardware system is built to provide these services.
Standard Equipment: What’s Included?
The base of the system is a device called Ooma Telo, and no matter what you want to do, you’ll need to purchase one for $99.99 to get started. Telo is the “brain” that connects and integrates your devices. You also have the choice to opt for the Ooma Telo Air, which sells for $129.99, and wirelessly provides the same internet-connected functionality as the original using your Wi-Fi network. Finally, the unreleased Ooma Telo 4G will provide the same home phone service wirelessly with a high-speed 4G LTE connection for homes without internet, or as a backup in the event of an outage.
Beyond Telo, you can think of additional equipment as “a la carte.” Using Telo, you can purchase additional devices to construct the personalized system that you desire. To this end, Ooma has a full suite of security cameras, sensors, and other detection devices to choose from.
In 2017, Ooma ventured into the security camera market by acquiring Butterfleye. At that time, Butterfleye had two security cameras: Butterfleye and Nero 1. Both cameras offer a 1080p resolution, internal storage, battery backup, facial recognition, motion detection, and sound detection. Both are also cordless indoor/outdoor cameras.
At CES 2019, Ooma launched a third camera, the Ooma Smart Cam. The camera is modeled after Butterfleye but has better features including infrared night vision, a wider viewing angle, and a longer battery life.
All three cameras will work with your Ooma system or alone. They all offer seven days of activity history and access to basic features. If you want more, you will need to pay. Features like a 30-day video history, facial recognition, geofencing, and two-way audio require a plan. Premium is $4.99 per month for one camera or $9.99 per month for two to six cameras.
Ooma offers a competitive selection of sensors to assist in home monitoring and protection. At CES 2017, Ooma also launched an array of sensors including a window/door sensor, water sensor, and a motion sensor. At CES 2018, they launched a smart smoke detector, garage door sensor, and a siren.
These can be integrated into your system.
Here’s the full range of hardware and equipment offerings:
- Ooma Telo – $99.99
- Ooma Telo Air — $129.99
- Ooma Telo 4G — $149.99 (coming soon)
- Nero 1
- Ooma Smart Cam
- Doorbell Cameras
- Window/Door sensor ($25)
- Water Sensor ($30)
- Motion Sensor ($35)
- Garage door sensor
- Smart smoke detector
Smart Device Integrations
Ooma can also act as a hub for Premier subscribers, allowing you to centrally manage multiple smart home devices. Currently, it works with Amazon Alexa for voice control, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Nest, and more.
Amazon Alexa: Using any Alexa-enabled device including Amazon Echo or Dot, you can make a call using your voice. You can make calls by dictating a number to Alexa or by contact name. In addition, you can ask Alexa to check your voicemail. Keep in mind that you aren’t actually communicating through Alexa. Instead, Alexa makes the call for you through your smartphone. Also, Ooma will actually call you first. Once you answer your phone, they will complete the call for you. However, this all changes if you own an Amazon Echo Connect. With Echo Connect in place, you can make hands-free calls, including to 911.
The skill also allows you to control your Ooma Home security devices. You can arm your system, disarm it, check system status, and more.
Google Assistant: The Google Assistant integration offers similar features to Alexa. Using your favorite Google Home device, you can arm the system, check system status, or disarm it with a command and a PIN.
Works With Nest: When you combine Ooma and Nest, Nest will tell Ooma when you’re home or away. If you’re away from home, Ooma will automatically forward calls. When you return home, Ooma will stop forwarding calls. Also, you can receive phone calls if Nest Protect detects smoke.
IFTTT: Using IFTTT, you can connect Ooma to hundreds of other devices and services. For example, you can get a notification on your iOS or Android device if someone you know calls. You can even set your lights to blink when you receive calls, or you can turn your Hue lights pink when you receive a voicemail. Ooma does not currently offer any IFTTT actions, but it has several triggers. Ooma can trigger another device to act if any of the following happens: new voicemail, incoming call, incoming call from known number, and incoming call from unknown number.
Dropbox: Ooma can drop your voicemails into Dropbox for safe keeping.
Smart Home Protection
So Ooma’s a phone, a smart home hub, a security system, and perhaps even a way to protect your connected devices. Coming soon, Ooma is rolling out Smart Home Protection. Ooma plans to stay on top of threats via real-time updates thanks to a partnership with a company called Zscaler. The service will allow Ooma to block threatening sites, fishy email links, inappropriate internet content, and even protect all your smart home devices from things like malware and spyware.
To get started, you will need to install your Ooma Telo between your modem and router. Smart Home Protection also requires an additional subscription fee ($3.99/month for Basic users, $5.99/month for Premier). It’s certainly a needed solution, several startups are also trying to solve for. But at the same time, Ooma appears to lack some of the features offered by competing companies, including the ability to configure rules, parental controls, and the ability to ask your permission regarding unusual activity.
Customer Service & Support
All Ooma products come with Ooma Phone Care Support included. Customer Support is available by phone or chat.
For Ooma residential services support, phone lines are open on 5am-5pm PST on weekdays and on Weekends at 8am-5pm PST at 1-888-711-OOMA(6662). Ooma also offers chat support 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.
For installation help, they offer a number of in-depth video tutorials. They have also established user forums for peer-to-peer support and common questions as well as aa variety of topic-specific FAQ pages.
Unfortunately, many customers were unsatisfied with Ooma customer support and found their interactions to be frustrating as well as time consuming. Customers commonly complained about difficulty cancelling Ooma services and continuous charges despite having cancelled. Many found customer representatives to be unhelpful and simply reading scripts.