I like the concept of ooma, a new VoIP service that rather than using PCs, works with regular home phones.
ooma debuts today in beta, with general availability scheduled for this fall.
U.S. calls are free via the ooma service. To make calls you connect to a broadband connection and primary phone through an ooma Hub.
According to News.com, Ooma charges a one-time fee of $399 for the Ooma device. After that, all domestic local and long distance calling is free. (International rates will be a Skype-like, few cents a minute.)
Additionally, you can use a $39 ooma Scout to connect to every active phone extension you are running.
ooma also comes with Instant Second Line, which gives users access to a second line in their home, with no installation or new phones, as well as a branded Broadband Answering Machine that combines voice mail with traditional answering machine features.
This setup is based on an ooma architecture based on a "distributed termination" call routing algorithm somewhat similar to P2P. This architecture allows ooma calls to bypass fee collection points that involve most providers having to pay termination fees to landline and cell phone companies.
Landline-using ooma customers contribute their connections to a local calling area. These allow additional ooma customers calling that area to use that de factor local calling area to complete their calls.
Because local landline phones are used in ooma, customers can keep their legacy connections in case the power goes out, or a 911 call is necessary.