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64252Ooma VoIP setup (2 month report) and interesting related info

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  • Thad Floryan
    Apr 28, 2014
      FYI. I've had the Ooma VoIP solution for nearly 2 months now
      and everything's working perfectly and I'm a very happy camper.

      When I first mentioned Ooma here in the group, I mentioned that
      I had been "examining" Ooma for about 6 years and finally bit
      the bullet because cellphone-only was not a good decision -- I
      abandoned landlines in 2002 due to the ever-increasing cost and
      have been cellphone-only since then, but circumstances changed
      and I now needed a good hand-free solution again so I could use
      the keyboard while on the phone and I also needed the ability to
      sometimes stay on the phone on hold when dealing with government
      agencies and not have a cellphone connection drop or battery run
      out and lose my place in the phone queue.

      There were several inquiries here (in the linux group) about the
      Ooma and the following can be considered to be a follow-up.

      Ooma's VoIP solution is a dedicated Linux application that does
      NOT require a desktop/laptop computer running 24/7/365 as do
      many/most other VoIP solutions. See: http://www.ooma.com

      Though the Ooma service is free, federal/state/E911 charges are
      applied making it $3.91/month in my ZIP code. I will upgrade to
      the premier service ($9.99/month) for Called ID and several other
      features I want and that price is affordable -- normal landlines
      here (Silicon Valley) now cost about US$30/month with NO features
      and that price will continuously rise every year ad infinitum.

      A question arose earlier tonight in Usenet's ba.internet group
      and my reply follows below which you may find interesting.

      Given the Yahoo NEO abortion which destroyed the Yahoo Groups'
      message archives, I will not be participating in any discussions
      unless (as happens occasionally) I can easily scrape the text
      and reply using that (but don't hold your breath).

      Thad

      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: Re: Is contractor's license req'd to install VOIP systems in Calif?
      Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2014 22:36:58 -0700
      From: Thad Floryan <thad@...>
      Organization: ThadLABS
      Newsgroups: ba.internet

      On 4/27/2014 9:33 PM, Glenn Geller wrote:
      > I plan to start installing VoIP phones systems on hosted
      > PBX platforms (that is, with no central PBX unit on
      > premises). Some of the jobs will be over $500 and thus
      > might be contracting as defined in California. I didn't get
      > a straight answer from http://cslb.ca.gov about whether
      > a contractor's license is required.

      "Contracting" as defined at the above-cited URL seems to be
      work performed on homes and related properties, and you have
      to past tests before you can get a contracting license.

      FWIW, I've installed many phone systems operating as a sole
      proprietorship (i.e., "consultant") for one-person companies
      to medium-sized businesses and never needed any license to do
      such work as reported on tax forms over the decades. I never
      even needed a business license as I discovered discussing the
      matter with my town -- I have a home office where I develop and
      test things for later deployment at client sites and I would
      occasionally VPN to client sites to fix problems remotely:

      http://thadlabs.com/PIX/Thad_desk.jpg 196kB, circa 2010

      but I've never had clients visiting me. A business license would
      have been required if I had been a walk-in operation regarding
      parking/safety compliance (ADA) issues in my home neighborhood.

      I've installed and maintained PBX and also asterisk VoIP systems
      for many clients which appear simply as a line-item on invoices.

      Do everything correctly the first time and you'll get continued
      business and referrals without having to advertise. The last
      resume I filled out was in 1965 for the GTE/Sylvania Electronic
      Defense Labs (in Mountain View) and that was a mere formality
      after I was already hired and working there (after moving from
      White Sands Missile Range).

      With that written, you should operate as if you were a business
      with proposals, contracts, and proper billing/invoicing procedures
      regardless if you're doing it for a neighbor or small/medium-sized
      businesses -- that's just good (NOT common) sense and will also
      avoid problems with the IRS and FTB. Worse thing you could do is
      not have EVERYTHING in writing and signed-off -- make sure all
      parties agree and understand to what you're proposing to do for them.

      I always would submit a very lengthy report of time/tasks with all
      my invoices so that everything I did was documented and understood/
      accepted/paid-for by the clients.

      FWIW, I've been retired since 2008 when Levanta (formerly Linuxcare)
      went belly-up on March 31, 2008.

      > [...]
      > So in California, does installing a VoIP system (where the
      > job exceeds $500 in total) require a contractor's license?

      I am NOT a lawyer and I've only had 1 traffic ticket since I began
      driving in 1960 (in 1974 driving 63MPH on I-280 during the phony oil
      shortage), but to ease your mind you might want to contact a lawyer
      for a freebie consultation about the matter -- seems many/most will
      do that per ads I've seen.

      > [...]
      > What about if it's just desk phones being attached to the
      > existing ethernet network: would that make a difference?

      "just desk phones attached to the existing ethernet network"
      doesn't make sense. Expensive and pricey VoIP phones (e.g.,
      a Cisco 7960) can be connected to existing Ethernet and it's
      better if that Ethernet has PoE otherwise you'll be using wall
      warts that will get kicked, unplugged, and/or catch fire and
      burn down a home as happened to a friend in Scotts Valley CA.

      What kind of VoIP system are you contemplating for installs?

      As much as I like asterisk, I now have Ooma for my "landline"
      augmenting my cell phone. The Ooma system uses plain standard
      "just desk phones" and existing telephony wiring. The present
      phones in my Ooma setup are:

      Plantronics SP-4 headset phone with a CIDCO (NOT Cisco)
      SA-99A-22 Callid ID unit with 99 number nemory at my desk

      PacBell wall mount in my kitchen

      2500 set with backlight in one bedroom

      I'll be adding 1 or 2 more phones to cover the rest of the
      house. Fortunately the Ooma Telo supplies a 5.0 REN (Ringer
      Equivalence Number) and the present load with those 3 phones
      is only about 2 REN so I have plenty of leeway for additions.

      FWIW, the Ooma Telo box is on my LAN and it connected with the
      OOMA home site automatically and all I had to do was select a
      phone number, enter E911 data, and supply auto-billing info --
      easiest phone installation I ever did after I disconnected the
      old PacBell wiring at the demarc to re-use the existing house
      wiring solely for Ooma use.

      The Ooma Telo box initially was "configured" via DHCP on my LAN.
      I later used its web interface to establish a fixed LAN IP and I
      also added that IP to my DHCP server's database "just in case":

      host oomavoip {
      hardware ethernet 00:18:61:14:50:11;
      fixed-address 172.20.20.83;
      }

      Note also the Ooma Telo and all my LAN infrastructure (switches,
      router, etc.) are connected to UPS systems

      Thad