Surprise, surprise... Telecom has once again greeted the New Year with price increases, this time a $1.85 line rental increase for many people. The cost of calling 018 from a mobile will be bumped up to 75c per call.

Telecom has for years raised its prices early in the New Year in line with CPI increases. Normally the announcement drops much earlier in the year, in the hope that news of the increased charges will be lost in the mix of stories about the summer road toll and New Year rowdiness at Whagamata etc.

What it says to me is that 2007 is a good year to start looking seriously at VoIP. Use Skype to call long distance - get all your friends around the country and overseas onto it - you'll all save money and it's easy enough for my mum to operate so the bar is set very low (no offence mum).

When I was in the US, I looked at the premium-based VoIP service, Vonage. It's very good in that it takes any of the complexity out of making VoIP calls and is competitively priced. We have our own less-mature services from the likes of WorldXChange and Slingshot. They're worth checking out if you have your broadband business with those providers or are looking to change operator. I'm going to make it my priority this year to try and inform readers how best to unplug from Telecom completely. I hope some new and improved offerings from Telecom's competitors makes my job easier.

As for the extortionate 75c charge for calling Telecom on your mobile, I haven't done the figures, but I'd say it's almost cheaper now to connect to www.whotepages.co.nz on the web browser of your phone and searching the listings than it is to call directory.

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