Long Distance

Long distance voice service refers to phone calls made outside of your local calling zone, generally more than 12 miles from the caller’s location. Long distance phone calls generally are charged per minute, with the specific rate depending on a variety of things such as if the call is within your local calling LATA, within your state, or nationwide. Long distance charges are extremely competitive, and can vary greatly between providers.  International calls generally are much more expensive than US domestic calls.

Long Distance is also broken down by intrastate or interstate.  This describes whether the call is within the state (such as Los Angeles to San Francisco – in California), or Interstate from New York to Los Angeles. Another term used is Intra-Lata, meaning that the call is outside your local area, but still within the phone company defined LATA you are in.

There are two basic types of long distance, Switched and Dedicated.

Switched Long Distance:

Your local phone company has the competitive advantage for providing dial tone and local phone service. It’s no accident, it’s the law. The local carrier, also called the ILEC or Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier, basically owns the rights to the copper wires that run to your location. Other companies can use those wires, but they have to lease them at some profit to the ILEC. Your local phone company gives you reliable dial tone service at a decent price.

What your local carrier doesn’t own is exclusive rights to the long distance lines that run from Phone Company to phone company. These are provided by Inter eXchange Carriers or IXCs. AT&T was the original provider of this service, but deregulation has encouraged competitive providers for the last 20 years or so. You have the right to select which long distance carrier handles your state to state and in-state long distance calls, and nearby long distance calls that are also called Intralata or local long distance.

Your local phone company would like you to buy a bundle of both local and long distance service from them. That gives you the convenience of a single phone bill, but usually at quite a price. You are almost always better off keeping your local and long distance phone bills separate.

Dedicated Long Distance:

Dedicated Long Distance service is a dedicated point-to-point digital data service that transmits at speeds of Fractional T1 and higher directly connected to the Inter-Exchange Carrier. Service providers, which include IXCs, ILECs, and resellers, provide various options for monitoring, diagnostic capabilities, and transmission privacy. Dedicated Long Distance service is designed to transmit voice from end user to service provider; therefore, the signal is high quality, very reliable, and secure. The pricing structure usually consists of two components: (1) transmission speed and (2) a fixed rate for central office termination (a.k.a. access charge or local loop). The service providers usually bill these charges monthly.

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