What would you do with $27 million in venture capital funding?
Would you use it to develop a $399 gadget that might take down the telecommunications industry?
That seems to be the business plan for Ooma, Inc., a Silicon Valley start-up that's selling a device - so far, by invitation only - that will provide unlimited free domestic calls for homes with broadband Internet service, according to this Physorg.com article. The company also offers a free second line, voice mail and conference calling, with plans in the works for call-forwarding to mobile phones.
And best of all, once you buy the device, that's it - no more service fees, other than maintaining your broadband connection.
The device uses your standard phone and - unlike Skype - the people you call can be on a regular phone service. According to the article, the technology uses a call routing algorithm that is similar to distributed computing. So far, it's only available to home residents, but the plan is to target home-based and small businesses.
It's a neat idea, but as the story points out, the phone hasn't exactly proven a fruitful ground for new companies. That said, at $399, the company wouldn't have to last very long - I figure two years at a minimum - for you to recoup your costs.