So how does Ooma manage “free” voice calls? Say you call Manhattan. Ooma routes the call to an Ooma box to the 212 area code, with the local carrier accepting it as a regular outbound call. It works even if the destination number lacks an Ooma box.
It’s free to you, though it does cost the Ooma box in far-flung area codes, but most of the local call plans are flat rate and come with unlimited calling. Ooma piggybacks on existing phone services, bringing all the things you expect from a traditional phone service, like dialing 911. (Walt Mossberg gives his thumbs up to this service.)
In telecom lingo, this is called distributed termination. The more boxes on the Ooma network, the more termination points - and , more voice calls the system can carry to the public switched phone networks.
Think of it another way: What the PC did to the mainframe, Ooma is doing it to the telecom switch.
I cannot overstate the wrath Ooma will feel from incumbents. Since Ooma threatens the carriers’ core business, they’ll do their best to crush it, arguing Ooma bypasses the local access regulatory structure.
Well, this is incredible indeed. And while simple in its essence, it is probably a lot of technology crammed into the Ooma box.
While this happens there, here in good old New Zealand we are still trying to unbundle the local loop, have naked DSL and a decent broadband service...
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