I've been getting increasingly irritated by my phone company. Every six months, they send me a nice note: "Sorry, but your phone package isn't offered anymore. We're upgrading you to another one and charging you an extra $10/month." "Due to new state regulations, we've added five new taxes, amounting to $8.53/month to your bill. So my local bill, with no long-distance service, was edging towards $50.

And SBC's online billpay isn't really reasonable. You have to send them a checking account number, and then approve each bill by logging into your account, based on an email they send you each month (which usually gets spam filtered).

Simultaneously my long distance seems to be accruing the same sorts of taxes and charges, and it's been about $30 or more monthly.

Now I'm paying all this money, when my home phone's forwarded to my cellphone. See, that's one of the things I'm paying for, the forwarding, and the long distance to forward it.

So after shaking my head at the latest phone bill, I finally sprung for Vonage, signed up and asked them to send me their VoIP package.

I still do like having a home phone, to make long calls without using up minutes. I know other people just use their cellphone, but I get into hours-long conference calls (800-numbers) when I'm working at home, and that just doesn't make sense.

And since I'm probably the only one who reads 48-page agreements in 48-character wide windows, here's the fine print: When you signup, they make you clickthrough an agreement where you agree not to do telemarketing or other automated services, and they make you agree that 911 service might not work properly. In particular, you might not get a local operator, and it won't work when the power's out. Ok, I understand.

But anyway, the service is $25/month for unlimited long distance, and if you have your internet through a non-ADSL provider (mine's SDSL, but cable works too), you will save probably $50 a month on local phone service all told. That makes a big difference over a year, and so that's what I'm doing.

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