I finally decided to go ‘whole hog’ on cord cutting and ditch my OOMA land line (sort of). Here’s how I ditched the OOMA box and kept my land line number.
TL;DR Version: Click here to skip to porting your OOMA number instructions.
As you’ve read here over the years, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with OOMA for home phone service… (mostly love).
But over the last year, the telemarketer/phone spammers have become absolutely RELENTLESS and my family was tired of the phone ringing constantly during dinner time and interrupting our time together.
I tried a few tricks, including the upgrade to OOMA Premier, which OOMA claims uses the ‘nomoRobo’ proprietary algorithm to stop spammers.
OOMA Premier was close, but no cigar. Spammers kept getting through, and our land line kept ringing to no useful purpose.
I tried to to take it a step further. I recorded the 3-tone ‘this phone is no longer in service’ Special Information Tone and put it at the front of our voicemail greeting. This may have caught a few spammers- but again- the spammers mostly kept getting through.
So we asked ourselves the question: Why pay $15 a month/ $180 per year to be harrased by spammers? the cell phone companies seem to have licked this (likely because it is in their best interest to keep unnecessary congestion off of their networks). And even when the spam call gets past the cell phone provider, you have the option to block the call permanently in iOS/Android.
As an added note, the OOMA Telo box was acting finicky, and I was becoming convinced it was a ‘chokepoint’ in our home internet connectivity (it was positioned ‘upstream’ of our home router, which gave it priority in routing/filtering internet traffic to our home).
BUT, we wanted to keep our land line number in case the old friend/utility company/Doctor’s office had that number on file and tried to use that number to contact us.
What to do? Get another cell phone line for $25/month just to field our old land line calls?
ENTER GOOGLE VOICE.
I won’t go into the details of the Google Voice service here, but it’s a service you can use to host a telephone number, a portal to send/receive text messages, and a service you can use to forward calls to a different (cell phone) number.
There’s a few caveats with Google Voice.
First, sending/receiving texts directly from Google Voice gets tricky if you’re not using a telephone number generated ‘organically’ by Google Voice.
Second (and most importantly), I learned you have to do a ‘Texas Two Step’ to port a land line/VOIP number in to Google Voice. You have to start with an ‘temporary’ port of your phone number to a 3rd party mobile phone service.
Step 1 – Get a ‘Burner’ Cell phone and short-term cell phone plan.
I had an old Republic Wireless phone available, and signed up for their bare-bones $5 per month plan, Alas, Republic Wireless will not port-in a VOIP number. Bummer.
So I did the next cheapest thing and bought a ‘burner’ Tracfone flip-fone (for free) with the purchase of a $19 talk time card. This did the trick.
Step 2 – Port OOMA over to the Burner Cell Phone (Tracfone in this case).
Porting from OOMA in to Tracfone took about a week. OOMA is not on their ‘boilerplate’ drop-down list of phone providers and it took a bit of explaining and patience on the phone with their customer service reps.
Then I let the Tracfone service ‘soak’ for a few days, to verify I could send/receive calls and texts using the Tracfone and my original landline phone number. All good.
Step 3 – Port the Burner Phone telephone number to Google Voice.
Next step was to contact Google Voice and port-in the Tracfone number. You pay Google Voice $20 for this service (one-time cost) and you do the port-in using their web form. I had a bit of difficulty doing this, because your ‘Account Number’ for Tracfone is the handset’s IMEI number (NOT the telephone number) and you have to setup your PIN on Tracfone.com ahead of time. Once you know the Tracfone ‘burner’ phone IMEI and your PIN you are all set. The port-in to Google Voice took 1 business day.
Step 4 – Setup Google Voice to forward all calls to your chosen cell phone number, and filter out the JUNK.
Call forwarding is on the settings page for Google Voice. You can also download the Google Voice app for iOS or Android and record your voicemail greeting:
Call filtering settings are pretty easy to setup on Google Voice. In my case I told Google that if the incoming call is not in my Google contacts list to send the incoming call directly to GVoicemail:
So that’s it. Our dinners are no longer interrupted by spammers, and we have complete control of our incoming calls. We made it happen for a one-time fee of about $40. . I hope it works for you if you do the same!