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ooma goes RadioShack – Over the counter HD communications

Edited/Corrected on 6/2 @ 3:05 PM ET – ooma’s new product will support G.722, added comment about new codecs

Ooma announced today that its products/service will be available through 3,000 RadioShack stories nationwide.  The company bundles free lifetime PSTN local and long-distance US. phone service in with its VoIP broadband phone device. IP communications geeks will love it because it has Digium’s Asterisk under the hood and the new Telo product supports the G.722 wideband codec.

Currently, the ooma system is a $250 hardware bundle that includes a Hub connecting to a broadbna device and an existing phone plus a Scout device to extend the ooma system to additonal phone jacks in the home.  Basic dial tone and long distance services are included while users can pay for an advanced features bundle starting at around $13 a month or $100 a year.  Ooma has the math worked out such that buying the bundle will cover both the hardware and around five years of local and long distance phone calls for a typical user.

The second generation of ooma, Telo, will be available in the third quarter of this year and include the aforementioned G.722 codec, a faster processor — a dual core ARM from MindSpeed, if memory serves –  plus optional DECT 6.0 wireless handsets.  Software upgrades to Telo may include support for iSAC and Skype’s SILK. Additional hardware refreshes are part and parcel of the company’s roadmap.

Ooma’s “secret sauce” is to push most of the routing intelligence down to the device, leveraging Asterisk to handle where calls are directed (i.e. to the lowest-cost network if it is not making a “free” peer-to-peer call).  The company also touts its better call quality through the use of higher quality codeces for calls between devices.

Ultimately, ooma wants to flood the market with its devices, so adding RadioShack illustrates a steady expansion of its footprint beyond its relationship with Best Buy.  Once the production lines are cranking, I wouldn’t be surprised to see ooma make an appearance at either Target or WalMart.  Ooma CMO Rich Buchanan is an old hand at the consumer electronics game and thinks in terms of millions of units as his benchmark of success from his previous stints at Sling Media and Creative Labs.

Two other cards ooma may play down the road are SMB and white labeling.  The basic ooma hardware/service could be bundled and shaped for a small office SMB-style environment while the use of Digium Asterisk could enable various code-loads tailored to cable operators and vertical markets.

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