For those of you with a home office, setting up a phone system that won’t cost you a ton of cash can be a daunting task. A few years ago I wrote about how to use Google Voice for your Business. This post is more of an update as I’ve been able to refine the setup so my monthly phone bill is as low as possible.
- Google Voice: https://www.google.com/voice
- Cell Phone with a Data Connection: I use Verizon and a Samsung S3 but you can use what ever provider you want
- Ooma Telo Home: http://ooma.com/
- High-speed Internet
How to Set it up:
The real cost savings comes in by using the Ooma when you are in your office. It is a device that you can connect to a regular phone but uses your internet connection to make the call (VOIP). This means you can call anywhere in the US without incurring long-distance fees.
You can buy an Ooma just about any where. I got mine from Amazon (affiliate link) but you can get them anywhere. Costco often has them on sale. The Home version is fine. I never messed with the other versions as they had functionality I didn’t need like the Bluetooth adapter ect… .
While the instructions they send you are pretty good, do not ignore the part about putting the Ooma right after your cable modem in the network chain. If you don’t do this, you can experience some audio quality problems.
Now that you have your Ooma set up, grab a Google Voice number. Connect your Ooma and cell phone number to it. All that is covered in the setup instructions for Google Voice. Don’t worry it’s really easy.
The final step is to put the Google Voice app on your phone:
- iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/google-voice/id318698524?mt=8
- Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.apps.googlevoice&hl=en
Now here is the key to getting this setup to work as efficiently as possible: use only your Google Voice number. This means using the web interface on my desktop or app on my cell phone to make calls. If you use Google Chrome as your browser check out this plugin.
Put the Google Voice number on your business cards, email signature, website, etc… . It’s important that people don’t have your real cell number or Ooma number otherwise the system isn’t as efficient. If you do it correctly, whether you are in your office or on the road you’ll get the call and you’ll be keeping your costs low.
Note: With Google Voice you can add lots of other numbers to ring so feel free to add your home number, Skype number, etc… to the setup.
- Google Voice: Free
- Cell Phone with Data: $75.56/month which includes taxes for 450 minutes and unlimited data
- Ooma: Initial device: $119 for the device and then about $3.50 a month for taxes.
With this setup I’m spending about $80 a month not including the initial cost of the Ooma or cell phone.
- Google Voice doesn’t like calling some phone numbers, namely FreeConferencCall.com or other similar free conference call numbers. For that, you’ll have to call directly with your Ooma.
- You are taking a leap of faith that Google Voice will be supported for some time. Google has a nasty habit of killing useful tools.
If you have a home office and need to keep your communication costs down, this set up is the most efficient one I’ve found so far.