Walt Mossberg tests a new VoIP alternative -- note the link below is to the no-wsj.com-subscription-required version of the article.
Ooma is a $399 piece of hardware that you pay for only once. There are no monthly bills. You just buy an Ooma Hub, a small device that looks like an answering machine. You plug it into your Internet connection and attach a phone, and you get free, unlimited domestic calls, local or long distance, as long as you keep your Ooma.
Second, with Ooma, you can easily keep your regular phone service as an integrated backup, for 911 calls, and in case the Internet service in your home goes out.