CES – Ooma officially embraces HD Voice, adds other goodies to service

Note: Ooma is a sponsor of HD Voice News

At CES, Ooma (www.ooma.com) rolled out several new features and enhances services for its second-generation Telo system, including formally announcing “High Definition Voice.” Other additions include a double-packet-sending “Pure Voice” feature to provide enhanced voice reliability, mobile phone calling with the iPhone family, Bluetooth support, Google Voice Extensions and voicemail transcripts.

Descriptions of the Ooma Telo system since the beginning of the 2009 have always included support for G.722 — along with the presence of CMO Rich Buchanan at HD communications events in New York — making Ooma’s formal announcement of support for HD confirmation old news to those have been following the company for a while.  Similiarly, support for Google Voice Extensions as a part of the premier service has been discussed since March 2009 and the delay in introduction of the feature has caused some consternation among hard-core Ooma fans/users eager to put the two services together.

Announcement of the Pure Voice feature is both interesting and intriguing.  In a quick conversation at CES, Buchanan described it as a “double packet” scheme that allowed clear voice calls to take place over networks/connections that had up to 50 percent (!!) packet loss.  Since G.722 uses around 64 Kbps, even providing redundancy of 100 percent would only be 128 Kbps or so — still a small fraction of the capacity on an ISDN or cable connection.

Addition of Bluetooth support, iPhone/iPod Touch support and voicemail transcription all point to tighter mobile integration.  Bluetooth support allows Ooma Telo users to pair with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, so users can take inbound calls on any phone connected to Telo, download phone book data from a mobile device for use on the Telo — very cool — and use Bluetooth headsets with Telo for hands-free talking.

IPhone family users will be able to make low-cost international phone calls over an Wi-Fi network using Ooma rates — not really an earthshaking announcement, but a nice feature to have if you are already signed up for the service.  Similarly, having inbound voicemail transcribed into text for forwarding as email or text isn’t new, but including a “human-aided” component to check transcriptions is also a good idea.

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