Having trouble placing or receiving calls or using your voicemail system on Ooma Telo VoIP Phones? Post your questions here.
#54446 by bvol
Sat May 01, 2010 7:39 am
I'm disappointed that Ooma has gone out of its way to make it impossible to use an external answering machine properly.

Any $20 answering machine from Target will permit you to hear messages as they are being recorded, but Ooma requires that you pay $100/year for the "premier" ability to turn on "call screening." That's ridiculous. If Ooma doesn't allow you to hear incoming messages as a standard feature, they should not block customers from using their own secondary answering machines.

It is apparent that Ooma has programmed the system to BLOCK incoming keypad tones. You can test this yourself: Use a cell phone and call your Ooma number; answer the Ooma line and while listening on the Ooma line, punch some numbers on your cell phone. You will hear a faint but audible buzzing on the line every time you hit a number on the cell phone. Ooma is essentially "BLEEPING OUT" the incoming keypad tones, which means you will never be able to access your secondary answering machine remotely from an outside line.

Of course, when you hit the keypad on your Ooma line phone, THOSE keypad tones are allowed to go out. But no keypad tones are allowed to come in.

This is clearly manipulative and it does not reflect well on Ooma. I actually wonder about the legality of selectively blocking specific tones that are sent on a telecommunications line. What if I compose a song using only keypad tones, am I not allowed to play that song over a line connected with an Ooma? What about the rights of other manufacturers to create devices that provide useful services on telephone lines?
#54452 by southsound
Sat May 01, 2010 8:17 am
I think you are being a little harsh on ooma, but I will assume that is because you didn't do your homework by reading the forum posts about this issue. Believe it or not, you are not the first user to notice that there is a problem passing DTMF in an inward direction.

On the hub (white early version) this is caused because of contractual hardware limitations and will never be fixed. On the Telo (the black ooma device) it is technically possible to fix but does not currently work. Someday it may, but I would never make a buying decision based soley on futures. My understanding - with VOIP DTMF tones are somewhat mangled - so your ATA decodes the signal, strips it out, and recreates it for accuracy in transmission. Believe it or not, this is not some demented play for ooma to make additional profit but just the way things are. Top level ooma executives have called it a "bug" and assigned it a tracking number (Telo only) and are very aware and public about the limitation.

Outbound DTMF is required and available so you can access automatic attendants, your bank or stockbroker, and other services that require DTMF.

As far as the DTMF songs go, sorry, but you aren't the first person there either: http://www.dialsongs.com/

Of course, don't plan on calling home from your cell and playing them to your children. Incoming DTMF doesn't work on ooma. Oh, wait! You knew that. :P
#54475 by sfhub
Sat May 01, 2010 4:03 pm
bvol wrote:I'm disappointed that Ooma has gone out of its way to make it impossible to use an external answering machine properly.

VOIP compression algorithms do not do well with DTMF tones. This has nothing to do with Ooma. DTMF tones are instead filtered out and transmitted out-of-band and recreated by the receiver. Ooma does this for DTMF going outbound from your home. What it doesn't do is generate inbound DTMF.

On the Hub Ooma implied this was some licensing issue and probably wouldn't be fixed. On the Telo they said it was possible to fix and it was an open bug.

This person says it was fixed on the Telo, but I haven't seen a confirmation from someone else.
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=7415
#54479 by just4fn
Sat May 01, 2010 6:38 pm
just tried to confirm dtmf tones on the Telo- no go
#54561 by bvol
Sun May 02, 2010 1:59 pm
Thanks for the replies.

So, it appears to be confirmed:
(1) The Ooma system is programmed to filter out DTMF tones;
(2) Ooma only restores those tones when they are sent to a non-Ooma phone number; and,
(3) Ooma conveniently fails to restore (i.e., blocks) those same tones when they are sent to an Ooma phone line.

The end result: you cannot use an external answering machine on your Ooma line, and you must pay $100/year to hear calls as they are recorded. Given the payoff for Ooma, they have no incentive to stop blocking (or "filtering out") incoming DTMF tones, and Ooma will continue to label it a "bug."

I agree with you, southsound--I'm not going to hold my breath. People considering buying an Ooma system should evaluate the real costs. If basic answering machine features are not worth $100/year to you, you might want to look elsewhere.
#54568 by sfhub
Sun May 02, 2010 2:25 pm
bvol wrote:Thanks for the replies.

So, it appears to be confirmed:
(1) The Ooma system is programmed to filter out DTMF tones;
(2) Ooma only restores those tones when they are sent to a non-Ooma phone number; and,
(3) Ooma conveniently fails to restore (i.e., blocks) those same tones when they are sent to an Ooma phone line.

The end result: you cannot use an external answering machine on your Ooma line, and you must pay $100/year to hear calls as they are recorded. Given the payoff for Ooma, they have no incentive to stop blocking (or "filtering out") incoming DTMF tones, and Ooma will continue to label it a "bug."

The end result is you cannot dialin to retrieve messages from your own answering machine.

However you seem to be assigning some nefarious greedy motive to Ooma where I don't personally believe there is any. DTMF basically won't work over VOIP compression, whether it is filtered out or not. To make it work extra work needs to be done to handle it out-of-band. You are saying they did the extra work to *break* it when in reality they need to do extra to make it work. These are different situations.
#122727 by tm0445
Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:39 pm
okay, did not know this --
--I have had a hub unit for some time (years), just spent the extra $ to port over, and found our mail boxes on our kitchen answering machine no longer work (and are not retrievable, of course)-- not the end of the world, just not as nice as expected....
BUT if fax machines can work on an Ooma unit, why not touch tones?? (Faxes are still working- and require two way tone communication ---)

So, looks like there is some other reason for this issue....maybe one already suggested??

in any case, not the end of the world, but I am very disappointed that normal touch tone signalling to a simple in house answering machine is BLOCKED.

So, that does it for any consideration of using Ooma for my business line.

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