Ooma vs Vonage — Which is the best for you?
Update after 2 years: We’ve been very happy with Ooma overall. The service has only gone down once in that time period and that may have just been our internet — I don’t remember exactly.
We would have spent ~$600 with our old home phone service over that period vs paying a little under $200 up front for Ooma, so we’ve saved ~$400. Now, we do actually pay $3/month in order to be able to dial 911 from our phones (worth it), so our savings is more like $350. Plus, the voice quality is faaaar better than our old traditional land line, so I think we came out ahead.
Traditional home phones are far too expensive nowadays. That is where Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) comes into play. You can get phone service for a big discount through your internet. In my case, it is even more reliable and higher quality than the home phone service I used to have.
- Ooma is much cheaper in the long-run for most people. Ooma does have a significant upfront cost of about
$200now ~$150, but the monthly bills are little to nothing.
- The call quality is perfect. I’ve never experienced clearer calls.
- Basically unlimited minutes. Its really 5,000 minutes to make sure you’re not using the low cost service for a call center. To go over this amount you would have to talk for over 166 minutes a day on your home phone. However, I bet they wouldn’t stop you.
- From their FAQ: “we do have a limit of 5000 minutes per month (for outbound calling) that we can enforce on a case by case basis in the event that a subscriber is clearly abusing the service (i.e. call centers, commercial purposes, etc.). We have never terminated a customer that has used the service for residential purposes.”
- Good customer service. I was surprised how quickly they responded to and solved the only issue I’ve ever had. It took them less than 48 hours.
- Nice website where you can view your missed calls and listen to voice mail from anywhere.
- No setup costs
- More cost effective if you are calling internationally frequently.
What Vonage and Ooma both have:
- You can make 911 calls. This is rarely used, if ever hopefully, but is nice to know that you can pick up the nearest phone and dial for an emergency.
- No contracts for either service. You used to need to do a contract with Vonage, but not anymore.
- Both require a fast and reliable internet connection. This is a must. Fortunately, most people already have this. I prefer cable over DSL — it seems more reliable and is capable of faster speeds.
- Neither require a computer to work.
- Neither require special phones to work. You can use any old normal phone you have.
- Significant upfront cost. Again, you will probably need about $200 to get started. However, you make this money back over Vonage pretty quickly.
- Cheapest plans limit your minutes like a cell phone. $9.99/month for 200 minutes. To get unlimited minutes, you are looking at $25.99/month.
- Worse call quality than Ooma.
- Their unlimited plans don’t save you much over traditional phone service.
- If you get the older version of Ooma (with no 911 and slightly less features), it can be $200 upfront and $0 from here to infinity.
- I recommend, if you decide on Ooma, to get the newer version with 911 and some additional features. This is about $200 upfront and $3/month for 911 taxes and fees.
- If you compare the new Ooma to the cheapest Vonage, you will break even and start saving $84/year with Ooma after about 2 years.
- If you compare the new Ooma to the most common Vonage plan — $26/month for unlimited calls — you will break even after about 10 months and start saving $275/year with Ooma.
The Other Guy:
Skype is the 3rd competitor here. They don’t offer a service that is quite like Vonage and Ooma. It requires a computer to work. You can’t connect old school phones to it. You will need a headset or a special phone to use Skype. It is difficult to receive phone calls. It drops calls sometimes. It is difficult and annoying to check voice mails.
Why would anyone get Skype? It is very cheap if you’re looking to make some outgoing calls on your computer. For $30/year you can make unlimited outgoing calls. However, a phone number does not show up on the person’s caller ID when you call unless you pay the additional $30/year for an incoming phone number. This is about $5/month and eventually is more expensive than Ooma.
Ooma is a better deal for 90% of people that live in the U.S. In the long-run you will save money over Vonage and Skype. However, I believe about 5% of people who make a ton of international calls and Vonage would be a more cost effective option. There are another 5% of people out there who don’t need to receive calls and aren’t phased by the multiple inconveniences of Skype.
Ultimately, it comes down to saving money with Ooma. However, the call quality and dependability is better with Ooma as well. So, I think it is a win-win.
It should be noted that Ooma is also the only phone service my wife has ever liked. She hated Skype becuase of the inconveniences. Its good to make the wife happy and save money =) Again, a win-win.