Phone service provider Ooma Inc. has now launched three updates to Ooma Office, improving users’ ability to send faxes, giving them toll-free numbers, and allowing users to manage their own voicemail, call logs, and call forwarding.
While the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company has been providing home phone service to consumers for some time now, it only unveiled Ooma Office in January. The idea was to start serving microbusinesses that employ 10 people or less, a market that typically doesn’t get much attention from B2B phone service providers because of the level of customer service required.
So for Ooma, providing these three new features and upgrades to Ooma Office is a boon for its customers, says Jim Gustke, vice-president of marketing. That includes faxing, the first of the three new features Ooma is announcing today.
“When we launched Ooma, we were surprised on how many microbusinesses do analog faxing,” he says, adding one of the reasons for that might be that Voice over Internet Protocol technology has trouble handling faxes. However, Ooma has built proprietary technology that makes it easier for customers to send faxes, even with a poor Internet connection.
While Gustke wouldn’t share specifics on how the technology works, he says it has to do with prioritizing data packets over other traffic on the network, and sending packets of redundant information in case some packets are lost.
Then there’s the new toll-free numbers, issued to Ooma customers who want to allow their customers to call them without charges. As part of the new feature, the company is providing Ooma Office customers with 500 minutes of toll-free service, but customers can buy more minutes if they want – for example, customers can buy 1,000 minutes for about $15.
And then there are the new user portals for Ooma Office, giving employees at microbusinesses more control over their phones. When Ooma Office first launched, an office administrator at a microbusiness had the only portal for all of the extensions in the office.
But now, users of up to five physical extensions can set up call forwarding, send and receive e-faxes, check their call logs, voicemail, and so on. Aside from the five physical extensions, Ooma also allows for 15 mobile extensions, allowing desk phones to be connected to mobile phones or home office lines.
While Gustke wouldn’t share how many customers Ooma Office has signed up since the service launched, he said Ooma is now serving microbusinesses in the U.S. and Canada, and that its customer base is “growing exponentially every quarter.”
Aside from buying toll-free minutes, pricing for Ooma is typically around $249.99 for the base station, plus two phone jacks. Customers also pay about $19.98 each month for service, and additional phone jacks cost around $9.99 a month. Customers can add up to five of these extra jacks.