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The Short Story on Long Distance


Up until 1984, AT&T had a monopoly on just about all telephone calls in the USA. Then the company was forced to split up into the baby Bells, such as Southwestern Bell and Pacific Bell. The baby Bells handled the local telephone calls; but AT&T continued to have a monopoly on long distance service, for a while.

The deregulation of long distance telephone service eventually did lead to competition and cheaper phone calls. For example, in 1983, telephone calls from New York to Taiwan costed about $1 per minute. Now in 2002, we could make the same calls for less than 10 cents per minute. (In contrast, first class postage increased from 18 cents to 37 cents). The connectivity and sound quality improved over time as well. Competition also resulted in new marketing ploys, sales tactics and other business practices in general.

Long Distance is a big market. Anything big is hard to manage. The combination of low prices and promotions have lowered and possibly negated profit margins. For example, by switching service providers and cashing promotional checks again and again, we had practically free long distance service for most of the mid 90s.

The sales people were paid their commissions. We called for free. Where was the profit? Surprised or not, we eventually were forced to pay monthly fees; some of us even learned about the scams and witnessed the end of customer service.

Now there are no good deals to be had from the "big players". AT&T wants to sell its long distance service. Sprint is shifting its focus to cellular and data services. MCI (WorldCom) has filed for bankrupcy. Qwest seems to be having accounting problems as well.

So where do we find reputable, reliable and inexpensive long distance services? We tell our most memorable stories in the following pages. In short, we have played the game, switching among AT&T, MCI and Sprint. We have tried Qwest through Essential-dot-bomb.

Now we use ZoneLD. We think it is one good honest deal. We encourage you to sign up by clicking on the graphic icons on this and the ensuing pages.


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