Would you like to be able to make an infinite number of domestic calls for free? That’s exactly what a new company called Ooma is offering. They’re bringing in a new peer-to-peer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) network that could change the way people call. The idea is to charge a one-time fee of $399 for their Ooma hub, afterwhich all domestic calls would be free. It would charge for international calls and also what it calls Scouts, devices to connect additional phones at $39 each. Ooma has some heavyhitters on its board, such as TiVo co-founder Mike Ramsay and Napster co-founder Sean Parker, which means it could be muchmore than a pipe dream. The Ooma hub is plugged into your broadband connection, and then your phone is connected to it. However, unlike other VoIP carriers, you keep your regular phone linefor emergency and use during power outages. The peer-to-peer technology the company uses means that every hub becomes part of the distributed Ooma network. Since Ooma users will also havetheir phones connected to the copper phone line network for 911 purposes, their connections will serve as local gateways to the public switched telephone network (PSTN). That means Ooma can avoidpaying a the termination fees to phone companies that other VoIP players have had to spend. The company has begun a beta program, giving away free hubs, but the device won’t go on themarket until September. “I believe that consumers should have a better phone experience, one that combines convenience, innovation and cost savings,” said Ooma founder AndrewFrame. “Just as consumers transformed the functionality of their television through TiVo and their music with the iPod, we expect that they will reinvent the way they use their home phone withan Ooma system.”
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