As you may know, Ooma is a VoIP phone service provider with a slightly different business model than other similar services (such as Vonage). With Ooma you simply purchase the Ooma system up-front ($150 for their current "Telo" system), and then the actual phone service is free forever. The only ongoing fees you pay are taxes and other government fees (about $40 to $60 a year depending on where you live), but there is no cost for the basic service itself. If you are lucky enough to have an older Ooma system (called an Ooma "Hub"), then you may not even have to pay the yearly taxes or fees.
Ooma also offers a "Premier" service that provides several enhanced features, the most useful being their "Instant Second Line" feature, for about $10 a month. The Instant Second Line isn't exactly the same as having a true second line though. In this article we'll review the differences between the Instant Second Line and an actual second line, and then go over how you can setup two independent Ooma systems to get full two-line functionality and save money at the same time.
First, let's review the differences between the Ooma Instant Second Line and just having two independent Ooma systems:
Ooma "Instant Second Line"
Two independent Ooma systems
As you can see, having two separate Ooma systems provides much greater functionality and flexibility than using the Instant Second Line feature. You can use one phone number for your business, your kids, or whatever and have it completely separate from the other number. Using two separate Ooma systems is essentially the same thing as ordering two phone lines from the telephone company. To top it off you also avoid having to pay for the Ooma Premier service!
Setting up two separate Ooma systems to work with two-line phones is actually quite simple. The key piece of equipment that you'll need is a two-line coupler. A two-line coupler has two RJ-11 cables that feed into a single RJ-11 jack. It combines the single-line phone signal from each of the cables and converts it into a standard two-line phone jack. One cable becomes "line 1" and the other cable becomes "line 2" on the combined phone jack. You can buy the two-line coupler at some local electronics stores or you can just order it online for about $5 from Amazon.
|Wiring Diagram (click to enlarge)|
Once you have the two Ooma systems connected through the two-line coupler all that's left to do is connect a two-line (four-wire) phone cable between the two-line coupler and any phone jack in your home. Before doing this make sure that you disconnect the actual phone company's circuits from your inside wiring. This usually can be accomplished by opening the telephone network interface box on the outside of your home and simply unplugging the test jack inside. By doing this you are isolating your home's telephone wires from the local telephone company's network. This is necessary to prevent power from remaining on your internal phone wiring which will interfere with the operation of your Ooma system.
|The freedom to use any one- or two-line phone!|
|Triple Jack Modular Adapter|
|The final setup using both a newer Ooma Telo system and an older Ooma Hub system|
If you have just a single Ooma system with the Premier service you will pay the initial $150 purchase price for the system and then $60 for at least one Ooma provided cordless handset plus $120 a year for the service and $40 to $60 a year in taxes and fees (we'll use $50 as an average for the taxes and fees). Your first year cost is ~$380, with each subsequent year costing ~$170.
If you purchase two Ooma systems and set them up as described, without the need for the Premier service, then you will pay the initial $300 purchase price (for two systems), plus $80 to $120 a year in taxes and fees (again, we'll use $50 a year per system as an average for the taxes and fees, so $100 a year for both systems). Your first year cost is ~$400, with each subsequent year costing just the ~$100 in taxes and fees. Using this method you pay only $20 more the first year and then save ~$70 a year and end up with two true phone lines with their own numbers and full compatibility with regular two-line phones throughout your whole house.