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