FAQ - Long Distance
As your local, community based telecom provider, we make it a practice to communicate with you about the changes taking place in the telephone industry affecting your service. Probably no service is more confusing than long-distance. Issues continue to arise in long-distance that can seriously affect you. The national long-distance companies are promoting policies that may place you - and customers of all community based companies - at severe disadvantage. And when you ask why, these long-distance carriers usually blame us. So, we want to give you a better explanation of the issues.
Some local telephone companies still provide billing and collection services for the long-distance companies. Traditionally, we did this primarily because it's what our customers wanted - to get the convenience of one consolidated bill for all their telephone-related services, rather than separate bills from each company. However, competition and the growing problems in long-distance for rural customers changed the dynamics for these billing arrangements. Now, many local companies no longer bill for the long-distance companies or other service providers. In fact, the practical convenience of "one bill" could soon become extinct.
Q: Why can't I get service from the long-distance company I want? And, why aren't the long-distance rate plans I see advertised available here?
A: With many national long-distance companies, you simply "can't get there from here." Many customers in rural communities - and not just here in our area - find only frustration when they try to select a long-distance company, make a "10-10" call (10-10-321, for example), or pick a calling plan they've seen advertised on TV or in the newspaper. When customers ask for an explanation, the long-distance companies usually point to us, the "local" company, as the reason why certain carriers, services, or advertised calling plans are not available.
As your local telecom provider, we'd like to make it clear that we have no say in a long-distance company's decision to offer service, rates, or calling plans in our service area. For a long-distance carrier to provide service here or to offer you dial-around (10-10) calling options, it must request that we program our switching facilities to recognize its "identification" code - or particular 10-10 code. If the long-distance company does not make the request, we cannot process the call.
The issue of choosing a long-distance calling plan is even more straightforward. These plans are unique only in their pricing; there are no technical or service-related factors that require a local company to play any role at all in a long-distance company's decision to make a calling plan available to certain customers or in certain areas. The only issues in this regard are the long-distance company's willingness to offer its plan wherever and to whomever it chooses, and its obligation to offer non-discriminatory rates.
Q: Why are my long-distance rates so high?
A: You must be careful to read and understand all terms and conditions before you can expect to see any "5-cent anytime" benefits. Since many long-distance companies choose not to offer their low-rate plans here, that means if you want their service, you're stuck with their "basic" rates, usually well above any Advertised specials.
No matter what we hear, you must first find out if these low rates and calling plans are offered here. Even if they are, those who don't look closely before they make the leap may wind up surprised by higher rates than expected and additional charges. Despite the promises, lower rates are not automatic, may apply only to interstate (state to state) calls, and usually come with other strings attached. Many plans specify defined hours during which the lower rates apply; off-hour calls are billed at much higher rates. Also, almost all plans include a monthly "buy-in" charge, and some even require a "set-up" fee (neither charged by Public Service Worldwide Connections). Even worse, customers who are swayed by the advertising promises but don't call to request a specific plan may see rates exceeding 35 cents per minute.
Q: Do I have an alternative to the national long-distance companies? Can I continue to get one bill for my local and long-distance charges?
A: Many community based telecom providers such as Public Service Telephone have sought to provide their customers a long-distance option that's "closer to home. Fearing that our customers can't expect any better service from the big long-distance companies, we concluded that if our customers were to have a real prospect of better long-distance service, it would have to come locally ... from here in the community ... from your local telecom provider. And that's just what we've done. Public Service Telephone in conjunction with Public Service Cellular, established a new long distance carrier - Public Service Worldwide Connections. Public Service now offers you a long-distance service that's quite unlike what you may be used to. You can now get a competitive rate with no monthly or annual fees - you only pay for the calls you make. Plus, you get the convenience of all your local and long distance calling on just one bill! But you also benefit from the kind of one-to-one service you expect from a company based here in the community, made up of friends and neighbors, not remote service centers and 800 numbers. We're excited about offering you long-distance service and about providing our customers and communities a choice to meet their needs.