Choosing a Long Distance Carrier:
Today consumers have many choices when it comes to
their telephone service. Not only are there a variety
of different long distance carriers to choose from,
but each carrier also has a number of different calling
plans that it offers. Choosing a long distance carrier
in today’s market can be a daunting task for many
Here are some things to consider when choosing a long
- Check for termination penalties or term requirements.
- Read the fine print on your calling plan and read
your monthly phone bills.
- Know your own calling patterns. Where do you call?
What time of day do you make your calls? How long
are your calls?
- Ask your current carrier if it has a less expensive
plan based on your calling habits and about any current
promotions that may be available.
- Ask about charges for state and federal programs.
Not all companies charge the same amounts for federal
- Look into 10-10 dial around plans or prepaid calling cards and see if they
cost less than your presubscribed long distance service.
There are many online resources for consumers that
provide helpful comparisons of long distance phone plans.
Here are some links to some websites you may find informative.
Dial Around Services
While some carriers offer pre-subscribed long distance
calling plans, others offer what are known as dial around
plans. With a dial around plan, consumers dial an access
code (the 10-10 numbers) when placing their calls. Depending
on where you call and when you make your calls, dial
around plans may be a good option. Be a smart shopper
though if you plan to use dial around. Consumer oriented
websites and publications can help. Before using a dial
around company, ask about the per minute rates and any
flat monthly charges that may apply. Also make sure
to ask whether there are any charges for federal or
state programs along with any federal and state taxes.
Keep in mind that you can use a dial around plan even
if you are pre-subscribed to another long distance carrier.
The “No PIC” option
With the wide number of dial around services and pre-paid
calling cards available, choosing not to have a long
distance carrier may be the most affordable option for
long distance service for some customers. This is commonly
referred to as “No PIC”. PIC stands for
primary interexchange carrier or, more simply, the long
distance carrier that you have selected to provide your
long distance service. If you choose to have no PIC,
you will not be able to make long distance calls without
using a dial around service or a pre-paid calling card.
However, for some customers, this may be the most affordable
option for long distance phone service. Before choosing
the “no PIC” option, compare the price per
minute or price per call for the dial around plan or
the pre-paid calling card to what you would pay to a
presubscribed long distance carrier. Compare any monthly
fees, surcharges and taxes that you would pay for each.
If you decide that the “no-PIC” option is
the best one for you, just call your local phone company
and ask them to drop your current long distance carrier.
Then make sure to contact your long distance carrier
and cancel your service.