18 September 2007
Landline phones havent changed much in decades. But Palo Alto-basedooma has created what it calls a true next-generationvoice-over-Internet protocol phone. It has applied some clevertechnology to deliver a lot of interesting benefits by combining bothphone and Internet technology. The company starts selling the phonetoday on its web site www.ooma.com.
The product has two parts, a $399 ooma Hub (introductory priceuntil next year when it becomes $599) and a $39 ooma Scout. The hublooks, intentionally, like a home answering machine. You plug in aphone line into it and connect to your broadband line at home viaEthernet. The Scouts you plug into additional phone lines.
One of the first benefits is that the ooma solution gives you theequivalent of a second phone line without paying for it. It does so bymultiplexing, or splitting your phone line into two separate parts. Onephone can connect and make calls via the phone line. When that phone isin use, a second phone connected to a scout can make a call via thesecond part of the phone line within the wiring of the house to thehub, which can then route the call over the Internet usingvoice-over-Internet phone technology. Hence, you get a second line forfree.