Switching Our Phone Service to Ooma and Connecting to Alexa

December 20, 2017

Several years back we ditched our landlines and switched to RingCentral. This saved us quite a bit each month and worked well for a few years. At some point we started to have serious problems with getting a dialtone on our main business line. Hours and hours of time on the phone with technical support led to even more frustration as they were filled with excuses not fixes. So it was time to switch again, but we might lose some things in the transition.

Our first choice was Ooma, but it doesn’t directly support toll-free (800) numbers. We looked over our phone bills and our number was rarely used. It also doesn’t seem as necessary these days as most people have long distance included in their plans. While they do offer fax service, we’d have to make some changes to our process. The reality is that the only faxes we received were “junk” faxes and we were never sending them. So, we decided to ditch both the toll-free number and fax and switch to Ooma.

It is still a VOIP system meaning that all calls are routed through the Internet. Even though we are a business, Ooma’s system for “home” phones made the most sense. A nice little add-on is their wireless/bluetooth adapter. This means the Ooma Telo does not need to be plugged into a router. Instead, it connects via WiFi.

Ooma HD2 HandsetThere is a regular phone plug on the back of the Ooma Telo where you can plug in whatever “traditional” phone you like. Another option is getting handsets directly designed to work with Ooma Telo. Right now we are using both the Ooma handsets as well as a traditional cordless phone system. Most likely we’ll get rid of the traditional phones in the near future as we simply aren’t using them.

Instead of plugging in traditional phones, we might decide to plug in the Echo Connect. The Echo Connect is a bridge between the Ooma Telo and Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) devices. It allows you to answer a phone call through an Echo by simply telling Alexa to answer a call. At that point the Echo functions as a speakerphone. You can also use your voice to place an outgoing call on the Echo which is completed via Ooma.

There is also an Ooma app for iOS and Android devices. This makes it very simple to make and receive Ooma calls on your favorite mobile device. The upside is I’m near the “business” phone more often though I can choose to let the call go to voicemail if I’m enjoying down time with family and friends. Even better, I can make or receive calls on my USA phone number from anywhere in the world and I’ve already put this to the test on a recent trip to Mexico.

Yes, we had to make an investment in the Ooma hardware in order to make the switch. Within six months it will pay for itself due to the savings on the phone bill. Plus, we get more reliable service.

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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