New device that connects online can slash your home phone bill


Ken Lipke switched his phone service to Ooma just over a year ago and is very pleased with the quality and the cash he has saved.

"I think it's a no-brainer," Lipke said. "I've saved, since I've used it, over $400." He pays just under $4 a month.

Ooma is a device that connects to your Internet service on one end and your regular home phone on the other. There's a one-time cost of about $150 for the black Ooma box and then the savings begin.

Local and domestic long distance calls are free. You pay just a few dollars per month in taxes. International calls are extra, but the rates are also very low.

In a survey of more than 50,000 Consumer Reports subscribers, Ooma is the top-rated phone service.

"Our readers who have Ooma service rated it higher than people with any other service, and gave it a top mark for value or what they got for the money," Rosalind Tordesillas of Consumer Reports said.

There is a limit of 5,000 minutes of calls per month. And if you want to keep your home phone number, you have to pay an additional one-time fee of $40.

"As for reliability and the quality of calls, our survey found that Ooma's ratings were on par with traditional service from big companies like AT&T or Verizon," Tordesillas said.

Lipke says he has no complaints.

"I don't lose calls, drop calls. It's very good quality," Lipke said. "I'd rather spend the money on something else, like a good dinner with my wife!"

If your phone is bundled with TV and Internet service, it's important to check with your provider before buying Ooma. Consumer Reports says dropping a phone line from a telecom bundle might only shave about $5 a month off your bill.

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