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Ooma vs Vonage for Calling India

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When I first came to the United States in 1999, I paid about 55c/min to make a call to India, that too after signing up for the AT&T International calling plan which cost another $5. How times have changed in the decade since! You can now call India for about 1c/min or in some cases, pay a flat rate and make unlimited calls. The low cost of communication can be attributed to many things but Voice Over IP (VOIP) is certainly on of the main factors. In this article, we compare two VOIP services, Vonage and Ooma that are available in the US which we have tried and compare them for their services (within the US) and also for calling India.

Vonage - Vonage has been a long time player in the VOIP space and have an excellent plan for calling India. They offer an unlimited calling plan nationwide and 60 countries including India, which costs $25/month with taxes (works out to about $35/month). Vonage will provide you with a VOIP adapter for free once you sign up. We have used their service for more than 8 years now and overall are very pleased with the success in reaching India and also with the quality of the call. There have been a few times, especially at certain times on weekends or during holidays when it may take a couple of tries before you get connected. There is little to no VOIP delay or breaks in the voice quality. They also offer a 3-month or 6-month discounted package as well.

If you call India very often and talk for more than 15-20 hours/month, this is a great service. Guys with girlfriends or fiances back in India, this is a great plan. Vonage also offers you a Vonage extension so you can also use the same account to make calls from your Smartphone for no extra charge (except of course for your mobile airtime if you are calling during peak hours).

Ooma - Ooma is also a VOIP service provider but they do not have a monthly service fee model. You only pay for the device, which can run you between $200-$250. After that you pay about $4 for taxes. With that, you get a phone line for life with no monthly service fees and unlimited calling to the United States. The risk with this company is whether it will stay in business or not. If the company is alive for between 8 months and 1 year after you buy the device, you would have paid for the device. Unlike Vonage where you have unlimited calling to India, you need to signup for a calling plan for India. Ooma offers two plans currently $5/500 minutes or $10/1000 minutes to 60 countries. If you stay within your plan, you pay about 1c/minute but once you go above plan its 8c/minute.

We tried the 500 minutes plan and we extremely disappointed by the entire experience of calling India. The calsl failed more than 75% of the times. When we were lucky to get through the sound quality was terrible or we got disconnected midway through a conversation. The call to the support desk was not very helpful either. They made us go through the entire reboot process (which of course disconnected us) and never acknowledged that the problem is at their end. Based on our experience we would not recommend Ooma's calling plans for calling India.

Verdict : If you call more than 20+ hours a month calling India then Vonage is certainly recommended. Their call quality and service is much superior compared to Ooma. If you speak less than 15 hours a month, then the combination of Ooma with a calling plan like Reliance works better. We called India using Ooma and Reliance and the call quality was excellent.

Do you use Vonage, Ooma or another VOIP service for calling India? Let us know what you think.

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