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Talk Is Cheap by James E Gaskin

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Chapter 3. Free Internet Phone Features that You’re Paying for Now

Telephones used to be simple. Dial. Talk. Hang up. Of course, a few decades ago our choices were simple but unpalatable. Pick up the phone you leased from AT&T. Dial (physically, with your fingers going in circles around the actual dial) a number. Talk through a decent local connection, but a poor long distance connection. Pay dollars per minute long distance prices. If you didn’t like that situation, you could, ah, write letters, because there was only one phone company.

Note

Movie Alert

Learn all about TPC (The Phone Company) in the marvelous 1967 paranoid comedy thriller starring James Coburn called The President’s Analyst. Great movie.

Today all phones do more than just dial and talk. Everyone has become spoiled by the modern features every phone has, such as automatic redial, one-button dialing, and a variety of other amazing phone tricks. And the services from the telephone company, such as Caller ID, call forwarding, call waiting, *69 return call, call blocking, and voicemail, among others, thrill many people all but one day per month.

That one day, of course, is when they pay their phone bill. Each of those services costs money—sometimes a lot of money.

Saving Money

You can’t judge how much you save until you know how much you spend for traditional telephone service. Table 3-1 shows the details from my bill at the start of 2005.

Table 3-1. SBC monthly statement breakdown

Service/fee description

Amount

Basic Local ...

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