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COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET Home

COMMUNET  October 2005, Week 1

COMMUNET October 2005, Week 1

Subject:

Priest further researches telephone rates

From:

"W. Curtiss Priest" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Community and Civic Network discussion list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 5 Oct 2005 19:47:19 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (121 lines)

Hi all,

If you have opted for a $30-$50 package for long distance,
please ignore this message (or reconsider).

If you primarily use a cell phone, I have no idea how
this relates to your current costs.

***

Our configuration for long distance, prior to today,
was Onesuite.com, with net2phone.com (as a backup).  Both
provide 800 number calling.  OneSuite costs are 2.5 cents/
minute, when you use a local access number.  In Melrose, MA,
we have several.  As a result, our long distance phone costs
are around $10/mo. -- i.e., well below packages.  (a reason
to avoid "packages.")  And, with any direct dialing billed
by Sprint.

Should we have difficulty with OneSuite (very seldom),
it is true telephony, we use the net2phone 800 number, and
and the charge is 3.9 cents/minute.  Net2phone is not true
telephony, i.e., it is "voice over IP (VOIP)" for part of the 
journey.  Quality varies.  Net2phone also offers VOIP as does
the major contender, Vonage.  In plain speak, a fax does
not work over Net2phone, but, works quite reliably with
OneSuite, true telephony.

***

Now, these services do require one extra step.  Both can
detect if you are calling from a home phone (via Caller ID), but,
you still need to do a 2-step dial, first to the connection,
then to the person you are contacting.  We have both providers
as a "memory phone" button, so, it is almost transparent.
(my PC dialer adds the extra step, transparently)

However, you need no additional "phone card."  You can
as easily make a call from a hotel or pay phone, using 
either OneSuite's or Net2phone's 800 number.

***

Regardless, what happens when anyone picks up the phone
and dials a long distance (or within state, out of region)
number in your home?

As Sprint provided us with a no monthly fee backup, we assigned
Sprint as the "PICC carrier."  This is the carrier that
bills you for out-of-region calls.  If you have NO PICC
carrier, be extremely cautious as you will likely receive
bills from the carrier of the person you dialed, and those
charges are often huge.  I.e., ALWAYS have a designated
PICC.

Sprint advised us that they were changing their billing,
and we would see a $3.95/mo. charge whether we used them
or not.

Time to change the PICC.

Today, I found two viable contenders.  One is ECG and
the other is 3U Telecom (German).

See this comparison page:

http://www.saveonphone.com/?source=goog&keyword=long+distance+telephone+providers

At 2.7 cents/minute between-state, ECG is quite close to our
OneSuite service at 2.5 cents.  While they had no monthly
fee, they now have a $.59/mo fee, for Universal Service,
but I understand that such charges are often "per call."  (yes,
providers via the "two step" seem immune to the FCC charges,
Federal taxes, and local taxes.)

3U Telecom is at 4.8 cents/minute.  This provider truly has
no monthly fee, so, if you faithfully use OneSuite, it is
simply a precaution for, say, someone visiting, and not knowing
to call via OneSuite.

OK.  Yes, the time it takes to change PICC's is a few
minutes.  Sometimes your local carrier will charge $5 to
do this.

Now, except for folk who want over around 1600 long distance
minutes per month, I assert that OneSuite is the right
package for you.  And, keep in mind, I mean 1600 minutes
on average.  If one month you use 200 minutes, you have
1400 minutes "left over."  So, a month of heavy calling
that is way over 1600 minutes, may be offset by the other
"below 1600" months.  Again, I have no idea about cell
phones.  Cathie and I both have one, but they are for
emergency.  I.e., you can always dial 911 on a cell phone
regardless of having a contract with the carrier.  (So
do not justify cell phones for, say, car emergencies.)
Any $1 flea market phone will do.  (Do keep it electrically
charged.)

Finally, one reason OneSuite is 2.5 cents is you pay in
advance via the net, using a credit card.  So, every few
months a call is terminated when the balance is $0.00.  However,
replenishing is a few browser strokes away, and takes effect
immediately.  Net2phone, in contrast, allows you to set
a minimum (say $10), and automatically refills the account
provided the credit card on record is active.  So, if you
establish both accounts, you are never helpless.

If you know of a more frugal approach, I'd love to hear.

Regards,

Curtiss
-- 


	   W. Curtiss Priest, Director, CITS
   Research Affiliate, Comparative Media Studies, MIT
      Center for Information, Technology & Society
         466 Pleasant St., Melrose, MA  02176
   781-662-4044  [log in to unmask] http://Cybertrails.org

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