AT&T may be a top name in phone service providers, but that doesn’t mean it leads the pack when it comes to high-quality business phone service at reasonable rates.
In a point-by-point comparison of Ooma versus AT&T, we looked at the similarities and differences between the business phone services offered by the two companies.
Let’s first review the basics of VoIP phone service and then dive into the specifics of the plans offered by Ooma and AT&T so you can make an informed decision on which company provides the best telephone service for your small business.
An Overview of VoIP
Telephone technology is no longer limited to landlines and cell phones. Internet-based telephone service is bridging the gap between these two phone types to offer business phones that are flexible and affordable.
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, uses the internet to transmit your telephone audio instead of telephone wires. Among other advantages of using VoIP a phone system, VoIP phones have the capacity for higher quality audio and have the flexibility to offer remote access to your business phone system via a smartphone app.
In many ways, the experience of using a VoIP phone is the same as what you’re used to. You’ll pick up the phone, get a dial tone, and place a call as usual. However, because the technology is software-based, the service can include a wide range of features, and costs are typically lower than with traditional phone services.
Ooma vs. AT&T – Features
AT&T is, of course, a widely known name in the telephone industry. However, that doesn’t mean it’s the best option for business phone service.
In considering the phone features that AT&T offers its business customers, we noticed that the landing pages for both AT&T’s landline business service and its UVerse VoIP service don’t include a clear breakdown of included features, such as call waiting, voicemail, and others. From this information, it’s hard to say what you’re getting, and this obfuscation feels typical of a large enterprise that has a significant hold on traditional phone service.
Notably, this problem isn’t unique to AT&T. The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report on the telecommunications industry ranked aspects of the fixed-line telephone service industry on a scale of 0 to 100. The 2018 analysis of 250,000 customer interviews noted, “Website satisfaction is lower (75) and operators are less helpful (73). Like all telecom industries, call centers are the worst part of the customer experience, and satisfaction with them declines 3% [in 2018] to 64.” The report also notes, “VoIP providers can devote resources to customer service rather than infrastructure.”
After searching AT&T’s support pages to identify the features included with phone service, we found that AT&T’s digital phone service, UVerse, includes call forwarding, three-way calling, call history, voicemail, call blocking, and more. Additionally, the service can combine voicemail messages from your wireless plan and your business service into one inbox. The phone service doesn’t include the Business Attendant feature or an 800 number, both of which come at an added cost. AT&T’s traditional landline business service includes voicemail, call forwarding, priority call, and more.
Comparatively, on the Ooma’s small business phone system product page, the 35+ features available to business customers are clearly listed. Phone service doesn’t need to be complicated, so included in the plan are business tools you need, such as extension dialing, conference bridge, after-hours modes, music on hold, ring groups, call forwarding, virtual fax, and more.
One included feature that many Ooma users appreciate is the Ooma virtual receptionist, which greets and directs incoming callers. This presents a professional first impression and is especially useful for small businesses that want to streamline their operations.
Additionally, Ooma Office includes flexible service via a free calling app. When using the Ooma Office app, you can receive incoming work calls on your mobile device, and outgoing calls made from the app use your work line to present consistency to customers while also preserving the privacy of your personal cell number. With the app, you get flexible phone service to accommodate a remote staff, and you can be accessible to clients even when you’re not in the office.
Ooma vs. AT&T – Reviews
What do independent reviewers think of the two companies’ business phone options?
In the 2020 Business Choice Awards by PC Magazine, Ooma Office was ranked as the #1 VoIP phone provider with high scores for reliability, ease of use, quality of tech support, and setup. This top rating is not a fluke, and Ooma has ranked #1 for the past seven years.
AT&T Collaborate ranked in 8th place in 2020. It wasn’t included in 2019, but in 2018, rankings were similar with AT&T UVerse coming in at ninth place.
According to the comparative data from 2020, Ooma has a Net Promoter Score of 75 which was the strongest score in the group for the likelihood of users to recommend the service. On the other hand, AT&T’s Net Promoter score was -11 which means that there are more users suggesting people avoid the service than recommend that they use it.
When reviewing Ooma Office, PCMag editors noted, “the sound quality was among the best of the VoIP services I’d tested, and everyone I’ve called to test my VoIP services agreed.”
In another independent review of Ooma Office, Business News Daily Senior Writer Chad Brooks anonymously called our customer service line several times. “During our calls, the Ooma representatives were helpful and friendly,” said Brooks. “They answered all of our questions clearly and thoroughly. Some of the other providers we spoke with didn’t provide the same level of detailed answers that Ooma did.”
Ooma vs. AT&T – Plans and Costs
Ooma Office’s straightforward business phone service is affordably priced at $19.95 per user per month (exclusive of applicable taxes and fees). The phone service is available without any contract or commitment, and users can scale their service at any time so their phone system can grow as their business does. Included in the Ooma Office service are 35+ advanced calling features and unlimited calling to the United States and Canada.
With Ooma Office, your first toll-free number is free. Voicemail listening via email is also free, as is the virtual receptionist feature.
As of this writing, AT&T’s landline business service starts at $31.20 per month (exclusive of applicable taxes and fees) for unlimited long distance, but service is limited to 500 minutes of local calling. So, with this plan, you’d get only about 16 minutes of local calling per day. If you need more local minutes than that, the monthly rate is $62.95 per month for 1,400 minutes of local calling per month and unlimited long distance. For unlimited long-distance and unlimited local calling, you’d need to add Local Plus calling service, which doesn’t list pricing info online.
When considering the plans and costs of AT&T’s VoIP phone service, we’re unable to directly compare telephone costs because advertised pricing includes bundled services. While the $70 per month for internet and phone service sounds like a good deal, the information on the product pages doesn’t show the cost for additional phone lines or the user capacity for an account. AT&T’s digital phone service does include unlimited calling to the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
Additionally, this service isn’t available in all locations, so businesses will need to contact an AT&T sales rep to find out if this phone service is even an option.
From the initial exploration of plans, Ooma Office is a more affordable choice than AT&T’s business landline service. Under this plan, AT&T customers are actually spending 56 percent more on phone service than businesses using Ooma Office, and AT&T customers have limited local calls.
For those doing business internationally, AT&T Business International Calling is an add-on plan to access lower international calling rates. Comparatively, Ooma’s low-cost international rates are available to all customers without needing to subscribe to an additional international access plan, and calling rates are just pennies per minute.
Ooma Office has been chosen as the #1 VoIP phone service in PC Magazine’s Business Choice Awards for the past five years.
Whether you’re looking at AT&T’s traditional phone service or its digital phone service, the company’s only edge is that it offers bundled service with internet and TV.
We all can appreciate the ACSI statement in the fixed-line telephone industry report, saying, “call centers are the worst part of the customer experience…” Yet, far fewer Ooma customers need tech support as compared to AT&T UVerse, and Ooma Office has regularly ranked highly with customers likely to recommend our business phone service.
As to costs, AT&T business landline customers are spending 56 percent more on phone service than businesses using Ooma Office. Moreover, AT&T’s digital voice service doesn’t even include unlimited local calls. Additionally, AT&T charges extra for its Business Attendant, while Ooma’s Virtual Receptionist feature is included.
When comparing Ooma Office to AT&T for Business, Ooma has much higher customer satisfaction ratings, proving that it’s possible to get higher quality service at a lower cost.