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Understanding telecommunications terms is essential when reviewing your long distance telephone bill.

800 Number Monthly Fee
A fixed monthly fee that a long distance company will charge you to have a personal 800 number. Not all long distance companies charge a monthly fee for their 800 number services.

800 Number Rate (from out-of-state)
For customers with personal 800 numbers, the 800 number rate is the charge per minute to the person who receives the phone call rather than to the person who makes the call. Typically, the 800 number in-state rate is the same as your in-state long distance rate. However, some carriers may charge you differently. Please call SmartPrice.com if you have questions regarding your personal 800 number in-state rate.

Basic Local Exchange Service
Local telephone service for residential or business use. This service includes primary directory listings, tone dialing service, access to operator services, access to directory assistance services, access to 911 emergency service, the ability to report service problems seven days a week and Lifeline and TelAssistance services.

Billing Address
This is the address where your long distance phone bill will be sent. It can either be same or different from your actual service address.

Billing Increment
The billing increment tells how the long distance company rounds your calls for billing purposes. If a call is ten minutes and 13 seconds, a company with 6 second increments will round to ten minutes and 18 seconds A company with a one minute billing increment would bill the same call for eleven minutes.

A term describing newly developed digital telecom services and their capacities. Broadband allows consumers integrated access to voice, high-speed data services, video-demand services, and interactive information delivery services.

A marketing strategy that combines a variety of telephone and related services on a single bill, often at a discount over individually purchased services.

Cable Modem
A cable modem is a device that enables you to connect your PC to your cable TV and receive data at a high speed. Cable modem service is much faster than traditional analog (telephone dial-in) service.

Calling Card Rate
The per minute charge for using a calling card. This rate is typically higher than your regular rate.

Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC)
A company that competes with established local telephone businesses by providing its own network and switching.

The illegal practice by a telecommunications provider of billing a customer for services never requested (for example, billing a customer for call waiting when they never signed up for that service). Consumers should review their bills periodically to detect and correct these charges.

Dedicated Line
A communications circuit provided for the exclusive use of a particular subscriber. Dedicated lines are generally used for businesses requiring large number of voice telephone lines or computers when large amounts of data need to be moved between points.

Directory Assistance Service
A service that makes directory listing database information available to retail customers. There is usually a fee associated with this service.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
A broadband (high-capacity) technology that allows consumers to connect to the Internet at high speeds. DSL works over ordinary copper telephone lines, although you need a special DSL modem to connect to your PC.

Generally, the closer a customer is to the telephone central office providing the service, the greater the speed available. The Web site www.dslreports.com has detailed information on DSL providers and will help you determine if you're close enough to an equipped central office to get the service.

Enhanced Service
Any telecom service that uses computer applications to provide consumers with value-added telephone services, such as voice mail and call waiting.

Facilities-Based Carrier
Any telecom company that owns facilities and equipment (such as poles, wires, cables and transmission facilities) that are used to provide service. AT&T, MCI/WorldCom, Sprint, Qwest, Broadwing and Level3 are examples of facilities-based carriers.

A term that is short for Fiber Optic cable. Fiber Optic cable is made of bundles of extremely pure glass capable of transmitting pulses of laser light extremely long distances. Fiber Optic Cable is the backbone for all modern telephone, data and Internet networks across the U.S.

InterLATA Toll Service
LATA means Local Access and Transport Area. It refers to the geographic region that has more than one telephone company providing its services. An interLATA toll service is the connection between two local exchange carriers in different regions. This is the same as long distance service.

Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Any company providing commercial access to the Internet.

IntraLATA Rates
Also known as "local toll" or "local long distance" rates, these rates are for calls that are often within your area code but still require you to dial "1" and the area code before the number.

InterExchange Carrier (IXC) is the generic name for long distance phone companies in the United States. AT&T is the largest IXC, controlling more than 50 per cent of the market. MCI/WorldCom and Sprint are the second and third largest IXCs. Most of these carriers offer a full spectrum of telephone, data and Internet services to their customers as well as reselling them to other carriers and resellers.

Less Than Minimum Penalty
The amount that is added to your long distance bill if the monthly minimum dollar amount is not reached. (See Monthly Minimum to Avoid Penalty)

LOA (Letter of Agency)
A LOA (Letter of Agency) is a form that some long distance companies ask you to sign before they will switch your long distance service. Nearly all long distance companies allow a residential TPV (Third Party Verification) to be performed as a substitute for an LOA. As technology improves, more and more long distance companies will allow residential LOAs to be signed "electronically" on SmartPrice.com, thus eliminating the need for both paper-based forms and the TPV process.

Local Access and Transport Area (LATA)
A geographic area covered by one or more local telephone companies, which are legally referred to as local exchange carriers (LECs). A connection between two local exchanges within the LATA is referred to as intraLATA. A connection between a carrier in one LATA to a carrier in another LATA is referred to as interLATA. InterLATA is long distance service. The current rules for permitting a company to provide intraLATA or interLATA service (or both) are based on the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Local Toll Calls
These are calls that are often within your same area code, but require you to dial a "1" before dialing the 7-digit telephone number. Traditionally, local telephone companies charged higher rates for these services. Now, in most states, long distance carriers provide these services, often at a reduced rate as compared to local phone companies.

Mobile Rate
The rate you will be charged when you call a mobile phone in another country. Some long distance companies have different rates for international calls to mobile phones versus international calls to regular phone lines.

Monthly Business Line Charge
Carriers may assess a monthly charge for each business line a customer has.

Monthly Fee
A fixed cost that is paid to the long distance company each month regardless of the number or length of calls.

Monthly Minimum
For certain rate plans, long distance companies require a certain dollar amount of usage per month. If the monthly minimum is not met, a charge is often incurred.

Monthly Minimum to Avoid Penalty
Some companies charge a fee if you do not spend a certain amount each month. (See Less Than Minumum Penalty)

MRC (Monthly Recurring Cost)
A customer's fixed costs for service that recur on a monthly basis and do not depend upon usage or volume.

Numbering Plan Area. The first three digits of a telephone number, commonly called the Area Code.

Network numbering exchange. The second set of three digits of a telephone number that designates a number to a specific central office.

Number Portability
The ability of consumers to retain their existing telephone number(s) - and the same quality of service - when switching to a new local service provider.

Off-Peak In-state/Out-of-state Rate
Off-Peak Rate refers to the calling period between 7pm and 7am. Off-Peak Rate also applies to calls made anytime during the weekend. This is the same thing as Saturday/Sunday Rate.

Originating Calls
Calls that are placed from your line to another number.

Peak In-state/Out-of-state Rate
Peak Rate refers to what are considered the prime calling hours: between 7am and 7pm.

Primary Interexchange Carrier. The PIC is the main long distance carrier used for "1+dialing" through which all interstate long distance calls are made.

PIC Freeze
Pre-subscribed Interexchange Carrier Freeze. A PIC Freeze is in place when a consumer makes arrangements with their LEC (local exchange carrier) or telephone company to prevent changing the user's PIC without their permission. This is done to prevent "slamming."

PICC (PIC Charge)
Primary Interexchange Carrier Charge, also known as the Pre-Subscribed Interexchange Carrier Charge. The FCC-mandated flat-rate charge that applies to pre-subscribed IXCs connecting to end-users through LEC (local exchange carrier) facilities. This charge appears on the bill sent to you from your long distance carrier.

Quality Rating
On a scale of one to five stars, SmartPrice.com rates the quality of each long distance company. This rating is based on the number of complaints the FCC receives about that particular company. Click here for more information about the SmartPrice.com quality ratings.

Regional Bell Operating Company. One of the original seven local telephone companies created as part of the breakup of AT&T. The RBOCs include: Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Bell South, NYNEX, Pacific Telesis Group, Southwestern Bell, and US West.

RespOrg (Responsible Organization)
A Responsible Organization is the company who is responsible for assigning and managing 1-800 numbers. When switching to a new long distance carrier, you will be asked to sign a Responsible Organization form if you would like to keep your existing 1-800 number.

Saturday Rate
The rate for calls made on Saturday. Most long distance companies now use rates that are the same 24 hours a day, seven days a week (excludes offers by AT&T, Sprint and MCI/WorldCom).

Service Address
This is the address where the telephone number(s) you are switching is located. It can either be the same or different from your billing address.

The illegal act of switching a retail customer's long distance and/or local telecommunications service provider without permission and/or knowledge of the customer or any of the customer's representatives.

Subscriber Line Charge (SLC)
A monthly fee paid by telephone subscribers that is used to compensate the local telephone company for part of the cost of installation and maintenance of the telephone wires, poles and other facilities that link your home to the telephone network. This charge will appear on the bill sent to you by your local phone company.

Sunday Rate
The rate for calls made on Sunday. Most long distance companies now use rates that are the same 24 hours a day, seven days a week (excludes offers by AT&T, Sprint and MCI/WorldCom).

Switched Access Service
A service providing access to a network-based switching device that provides intrastate and interstate long distance service. This service is reached through 1+ dial access from your local telephone company.

TelAssistance Program
A program providing eligible consumers with a 65% reduction in the applicable tariff rate for qualifying services. These programs were instituted as part of the Modified Final Judgment that broke up the Bell System to ensure that a basic service level is available to anyone.

Any transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems.

Terminating Calls
Calls that you receive on your line.

Universal Service Fund (USF) Charge
This is an FCC-mandated charge appearing on the bill sent to you from your long distance carrier. The fund provides support for Internet access for schools, libraries and healthcare facilities.

Weekday Rate
The rate for calls during the heaviest (prime) calling hours: between 7am and 7pm, Monday through Friday. Most long distance companies now use rates that are the same 24 hours a day, seven days a week (excludes offers by AT&T, Sprint and MCI/WorldCom).

Weeknight Rate
The rate for calls between 7am and 7pm, Monday through Friday. Most long distance companies now use rates that are the same 24 hours a day, seven days a week (excludes offers by AT&T, Sprint and MCI/WorldCom).

Wholesale Service
A telecommunications service is considered a wholesale service when it is provided to a telecommunications utility that provides a retail service to residence or business end-user customers.

Your estimated monthly bill
This is an estimate of what you can expect to pay per month with your new calling plan, if the calling habits you entered are accurate and tend to stay the same from month to month. This figure is based on your current monthly bill amount and individual calling patterns you told SmartPrice.com, as well as the rates, fees and billing increments of the new long distance company.

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