Thursday, August 9, 2007

Finally Ooma information straight from the source, while others wonder how to hack it for worldwide free calls

The blogosphere has criticized Ooma for various reasons, while traditional media have praised it to the skies for Ooma's unlimited free calls to the US, probably not knowing that this is part of most VoIP offers today. Now Ooma's co-founder Dennis Peng took the time for some explaining words comments section of GigaOM:
There are three pillars to our core value proposition that are unique to ooma:
* unlimited calling to any number in the US - with no monthly fees
* the Instant Second Line - the easiest second line you’ll ever use
* the Broadband Answering Machine - the best voicemail experience ever

His insightful comment is quite interesting to read. Especially for sentences like: "Both the Instant Second Line and Broadband Answering Machine are unprecedented features. To do them requires a unique combination of assets (processors, lights, buttons, speakers, inter-device networking, etc.) and architecture (star vs bus) that no ATA or other embedded device has ever had". Or: "What they will see, however, is a continual set of new services and the trained-eye will realize that we’ve designed this platform so that new services don’t all need to be “in-the-cloud”, but rather a unique blend of client/server intelligence and interactions".

This makes me hungry for more details, because the public still doesn't know how Ooma manages its Peer-to-Peer network, and whether it can survive if the company breaks down. Vinay has some interesting thoughts under the overpromising title "Ooma VOIP to offer Worldwide Free Calls?":
Some people reportedly said, Ooma won't work if they got closed down without understanding how they exactly work? No one really knows whether they use a Hydrid P2P or pure P2P. If they use hybrid P2P, then they have a central server that keeps information on peers and responds to requests for that information. I guess this could be required since regulation might require companies to know about their customers and some quality/security issues related to it. If they use pure P2P, they could have serious legal issues but ooma will continue to run irrespective of the company, coz the peers are responsible for data transfer and there is no central server.

Unfortunately Vinay's text doesn't mention how to use an Ooma device for worldwide free calls, although the title promised. Technically this should be possible, since there are many countries with free local calls or cheap nationwide phone flat rates, such as Germany. Jeff Pulver tries to build a worldwide free communication network around this with his fwdOUT service for Asterisk, yet for more than two years.

As I see it most ATAs run Linux and have been hacked for other purposes than the intended.

So will be Ooma.

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