Ooma, a cloud-based phone service provider for small business, just announced on its blog that it intends to include IP phone support for its Ooma Office phone system, which means that businesses can now use analog phones, fax machines, mobile and IP phones in combination.
Initially, the company plans to sell and support three phones — Cisco SPA 303, Yealink SIP-T21P E2 and Cisco SPA 504G — but will increase selection in the future.
Ooma Office Changes
The IP phones will be sold exclusively by Ooma as part of Ooma Office, the blog post said, and will come with “enterprise-level” features, such as blind transfer (1-step transfer), supervised transfer (2-step transfer), extension dialing and a “Do Not Disturb” function, in addition to caller ID, call waiting, three-way conference calling and others.
Regarding the addition of IP phones, Ooma CEO Eric Strang, in an interview with Small Business Trends, conducted via telephone, said, “Until now, we weren’t able to grow with the small business. With the addition of IP phones to our lineup of analog, mobile and fax, we can.”
Strang said the phones will come preprogrammed to work with Ooma, so they are literally plug-and-play. The company also provides 24/7 365-support, based in the U.S.
Enterprise Solution at Small Business Price, Company Says
The addition of IP phones aside, through the Office product, Ooma prides itself on providing what it says is an enterprise-grade solution at a price small businesses can afford. And at $19.95 per user per month with no contract required, the company is well on its way toward fulfilling that promise.
In a separate release, dated May 18, 2016, Ooma stated that the average business saves more than $1,800 per year. The company provides an online calculator, which businesses can use to estimate cost savings compared to their current supplier.
“Most small business of the size Ooma serves — 10 employees or fewer — get a couple of phones from AT&T or a cable operator and are pretty much stuck with that,” Strang said in the interview. “Ooma brings the power of the full PBX, including features like music on hold, extension dialing, and virtual receptionist, all at a price that saves the business as much as 75 percent over a traditional system.”
Each business receives a local and toll-free phone number, a virtual fax extension and a conference extension, Strang said. Subsequent users each get a direct personal phone number and virtual fax extension.
Additional features include:
- Unlimited calling in the U.S. and Canada
- Low international rates
- Caller-ID and name
- 9-1-1 service
- Free number transfer
- Toll-free numbers
Ooma’s System: On-premise and in the Cloud
Ooma’s system, which combines on-premise and cloud architecture, is built around a small, network-managed, secure Linux computer (shown below) that sits on-site and acts as a router, connecting to the Internet. It also has a fax mode built-in.
Extension devices hook up to employee phones wirelessly, linking them to the network. Hardware costs start at $199, which includes the base and two extensions, and is available from Ooma or through retail outlets such as Staples, Best Buy and Amazon.
In addition to its business products, Ooma offers a home phone service that includes free calling within the U.S. and a free mobile app. The service also integrates with Amazon Echo, enabling users to initiate phone calls by number or contact name and check voicemail.
Cloud-based Security and Redundancy
Ooma backs up all data in the cloud, ensuring a level of security and redundancy not available in on-premise PBX systems.
It is this redundancy that enables Ooma to also guarantee excellent voice quality, so users never experience garbled communications, a problem endemic among Internet-based services.
“Ooma lumps four technologies together into something we call ‘PureVoice,’” Strang said, explaining how the system works. “It gives us the ability to ensure excellent voice quality. Our systems actively monitor voice packets. If there is a delay in one, thanks to our adaptive redundancy, the next one has the information.”
Previously, Small Business Trends reported on Ooma in 2013, when the company announced the launch of its small business product, Ooma Office, and again in 2015, when it unveiled an addition to Office called Ooma Office Business Promoter, a marketing service aimed at increasing a small business’s online presence through promotion to search engines, mapping sites, business directories and location-based advertising.