• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

Fixed-rate voice model begins to gel

Oct 23, 20032 mins

* How to verify your long-distance carrier

For several years, we’ve been wondering out loud when the price for providing long-distance services would finally shift to a fixed rate for all-you-can-talk voice.  After all, when we’re down to pennies per minute for calling, do we really need the overhead of call detail for every six-second increment of calling time?

In a move for residential services that we anticipate spilling into the large corporate environment, BellSouth has introduced fixed-rate long-distance as an option for residential and small-business customers in its core service area.  Residential customers who meet certain criteria, such as subscribing to BellSouth’s “Complete Choice” service bundle, may also purchase unlimited local, intrastate and interstate domestic long-distance for $25.99 per month. 

Similar service is currently available for small-business customers under a special promotion.  According to the BellSouth tariff, this particular offer includes unlimited domestic long-distance for small businesses for $20 per month for a single line with incremental pricing for multiple lines.  For instance, three lines cost $50 per month, five cost $95, and nine cost $140.

Naturally, there are some typical restrictions and caveats.  Nevertheless, the trend is clear.  There’s a limit to how many minutes it’s possible to talk on the phone in a given month, and the service providers are willing to bet that you’ll go for a fixed rate. Like the “all u can eat” buffet table, where restaurateurs generally make out like bandits, most of the population won’t be able to eat (or talk) their entry fee’s worth.

Once you’ve decided to make the move to fixed-rate long-distance, how do you make sure the move is actually in effect before starting to use your bucket of unlimited calling minutes?  You just need to know the magic number: 1-700-555-4141. 

By calling this number, you get a recorded announcement that tells you what long-distance carrier is servicing the line you are using.  And to verify your local toll carrier, call 1-[your area code]-700-4141.

This last step is quite important for making sure the carrier you think is servicing your long-distance calls is, in fact, doing so before you start making those “all-u-can-talk” calls.