West Valley City announces partnership with Ooma to provide free phone service to all residents

West-Valley-City-logoIn a live news conference this morning, City Manager Wayne Pyle announced that the city is working on a partnership with Ooma to provide free phone service to every resident of West Valley City. Residents would be responsible for taxes and fees and there is also a charge to port an existing number. The city projects that the partnership would save residents around $20M per year in telecommunications costs. This service will ride on top of the completed UTOPIA network assuming that the city council accepts Macquarie’s offer when the Milestone Two report is complete. While this deal seems to apply only to West Valley City, it will be interesting to see if other UTOPIA cities try to get in on that action.

This only highlights the immense brand power of a ubiquitous fiber network in a city. It also gives Google Fiber a bit of a black eye since they have no phone product at all.

UPDATE: Here’s the press release.

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17 Responses to West Valley City announces partnership with Ooma to provide free phone service to all residents

  1. Does anyone actually have phone lines anymore?

    • Jesse says:

      I have two VoIP lines at home. They’re cheaper than cell service, don’t have signal coverage issues, and don’t depend on a charged battery.

    • Richard says:

      I’m certain there is a large segment that still has a traditional land line, especially those who are less tech savvy.

      • Jesse says:

        POTS provides backup power on the line and comes with tightly regulated rules on restoring and maintaining service. It’s also the best way to get reliable E911 service. The differential between what you can get with VoIP, though, is so small that the price differential isn’t justifiable.

  2. Ronald D. Hunt says:

    Ohhh.. boy, CenturyLink and Comcast are going to love this…. hah.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I can’t tell how this is any different from the regular Ooma service that anyone can get. Unless they provide the Telo VOIP device free of charge under the deal, then it’s exactly like what I have today (free service, just pay the taxes) that I use on my Comcast connection.

    That being said, if the partnership provides nothing beyond an awareness of Ooma and its viability over any Macquarie/UTOPIA connection (basic/free or premium), then it’s still a great thing, since a basic connection + Ooma service would run $22-$24 total per month (utility fee + ~$4) which is way cheaper than what CenturyLink would sell a basic landline + basic DSL.

    I agree with Jesse that a land line is great to have, even in this day and age of cell phones. Given how cheap you can get a VOIP line, I think it’s a no-brainer. Having a good land line at home also makes getting a cheaper cell phone plan a possibility. I use Google Voice to forward calls to both home, cell and work, and I only answer the cell if I’m out and about. As a result, I spend less than $100/year on cell phone service on a pre-paid plan. For mobile data, I use FreedomPop and carry around a little wireless access point that gives me 500MB/month for free. So my annual phone costs are about $150. Sure, it’s not as convenient as a $100/month unlimited cell plan, but it’s a whole lot cheaper. The money I save goes towards Comcast today, but I hope that it’ll soon go towards XMission, Sumo, et.al.

    • Greg says:

      This is exactly what I do. I actually built my own VOIP system (for fun) and it ties into my google voice number. It works great, and costs me next to nothing to run (Running on a Raspberry Pi device). It sounds crystal clear, and has some work-arounds for 911 service (when 911 is dialed the software forwards to the 911 10 digit number…it’s not perfect, but it’s a solution…Ultimately, make sure you have a cell phone around for emergencies). I applaud West Valley for this.

  4. Paul Larsen says:

    I have a CenturyLink land line with basic phone service, no add-ons, no long distance. Not sure why I still have it other than procrastination. I know several people who have Ooma and rave about it. I will likely pick one up, and have a ceremony when I cut the final cord!

  5. Here’s a question (from a friend elsewhere): “Why is there even a partnership? Other than perhaps not having to purchase equipment (the article doesn’t mention this), this is the same deal offered to every other Ooma customer everywhere.”

    • Jesse says:

      A refurbish Ooma is $130. They’re giving it away for free. That’s a pretty good deal.

    • Richard says:

      Partnerships usually mean both sides benefit, so Ooma might get access additional access to better promote the offering to residents. I haven’t check, but Ooma probably also sells upgraded services, so they would have a captive audience to promote to.

  6. Scott Jansen says:

    I’m disabled, I will be taxed to oblivion. And decause of fixed income will not be able use this because of the astronomical hookup fees. besides I had Nuvont VOIP and equiptment was constantly breaking down.


  7. Mike says:

    Scott, what ‘astronomical hookup fees’ are you talking about? Also, Ooma isn’t Nuvont; just because one VOIP provider is crap, doesn’t mean they all are. There’s many business that use VOIP as their primary phone system; several of the ones in Utah would be unable to function if the equipment broke down regularly. Do you really think a global company the exists solely to take phone calls (such as Convergys) would risk their entire business on something that doesn’t work? If your entire business is based on incoming phone calls, every incoming phone call you can’t take is lost revenue; Enough lost calls and your entire company will go away. If VOIP technology wasn’t at least as reliable as regular (POTS) telephone, no business would use it.

    Finally, you pay those same taxes if you a regular phone through century link or Comcast. The difference is that you ALSO have to pay for the line, and dial tone service, and a bunch of other fees. Ooma only charges the taxes; if they weren’t mandated taxes by state and federal governments,

    • Scott says:

      Mike, the astronomical hookup fees are $4.000 up front Or $30 fee for life stollen by the city if you don’t use the servise.connection fee. $300 -$500 to run the cables inside your house

      • Jesse says:

        The only people who pay for UTOPIA are the people who sign up for service. Your statement is grossly inaccurate.

      • Anonymoose says:

        I don’t know what they were quoting back when this story was new, but the current connection fee is $2,750 up-front for perpetual access at the service address, or $30/month while receiving service (month-to-month contract). They don’t even advertise the up-front option anymore because it was turning people off.

        I know because I just signed up last week and and when scheduling the install (for next week), I mentioned that I was sad that I couldn’t do the up-front option anymore, and the Utopia rep told me that it is still available if you know to ask about it. I opted for the up-front option since I plan to live at my hose for more than the ~7.5 years it will take to break even, and I figure that I can use the benefit as a selling point if/when I do eventually sell my home ($30/month discount on Internet service!).

        And to get back on topic, we’ve had Ooma VOIP service for more than a decade and it works great over my Comcast/Xfinity cable modem connection. I expect that when I get gigabit Utopia/Xmission next week, it’ll work as well or better.

  8. Mike says:

    Richard, Ooma does have a “premium” service for about $10/month that includes a bunch of extra features like ring pools, enhanced voice mail, and an included second line.

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