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Questions About Local and Long Distance Phone Service


What kind of choice do I have for local and long distance telephone services?
Can I keep my current telephone if I switch my local phone company? 
Can I change my phone number when I change local companies?
Can I get a personal toll-free (1-800) number? 
Will I be listed in the Directory?
Can I switch my local service without switching my long distance service?
How long will it take to switch my local service?
I have two lines with my local company; do I need to switch both of them? 
How much will I save by switching my local and long distance service? 
Will I save a lot with a "bundled" offer of combined local and long distance services?
Can I get different Custom Calling features from the local phone service companies on SmartPrice.com? 
What are Custom Calling features?
What are the enhanced features available from the new competitive carriers?
Can I switch my local carrier if I currently have ISDN or DSL Internet service? 
Can I add or change features after I've switched to my new carrier?
Will I get a refund from my current local carrier if I've paid in advance or made a deposit?
Will any installation work need to take place at my home?
Are there any contracts or term commitments required?

 

What kind of choice do I have for local and long distance telephone services?
There are over 1200 companies providing long distance service and hundreds of Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLEC) providing both local and long distance service in the U.S. Although AT&T, Sprint and MCI WorldCom are the most well-known communications companies, there are many other high quality choices available for your communications needs that can save you money and provide features not always available from traditional carriers. 
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Can I keep my current telephone if I switch my local phone company? 
Yes, you will be able to keep your current phone number.
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Can I change my phone number when I change local companies? 
Yes. The best way to do this is to use SmartPrice.com to switch your service to the new local carrier. Once your service has been switched, call your new local phone company's customer care number (you can find it on your new bill) and they'll help you change your number.
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Can I get a personal toll-free (1-800) number? 
Generally yes, most of the competitive carriers on the SmartPrice.com site provide this service. To get a personal 800 number for your new plan go ahead and begin the switch process. After we ask your basic contact and payment information we will ask you whether you want an 800 number - just tell us how many you'd like and we'll take care of it for you.
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Will I be listed in the Directory? 
Yes, a free listing in the white pages is provided with your new service. You can have a "non-published" number, that is, a number that isn't listed in the directory, at an additional cost.
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Can I switch my local service without switching my long distance service?"   
In general, no. Most competitive carriers require you to subscribe to a package, or "bundle" of local, local toll, and long distance services. Some carriers offer additional services such as wireless and Internet access that may be added to the package. Once you have your local and long distance service switched through SmartPrice.com you can contact your new phone company to find out what other services you are eligible to receive.   
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How long will it take to switch my local service? 
Switching time varies significantly from company to company. It ranges from 3 to 4 days for companies reselling Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) services to up to four weeks for some Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs). Go ahead and plan on it taking a few weeks, but know that we are doing the best we can to get you switched as quickly as possible.
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I have two lines with my local company; do I need to switch both of them? 
If the two lines are on separate accounts with your local phone company, they may be switched independently. All lines on the same account must be switched together. After switching, you may contact your new carrier to cancel any lines you do not want.

 

How much will I save by switching my local and long distance service?
You will save around 10% in most large cities and 5% to 10% in rural areas. 
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Will I save a lot with a "bundled" offer of combined local and long distance services? 
Bundled services offer reasonable savings but probably not as much as purchasing from the lowest cost supplier from each service category. While there are reasonable savings available from bundled providers one of the most significant benefits from these offers is a single bill for all services and a single point of contact for resolving any service problems.
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Can I get different Custom Calling features from the local phone service companies on SmartPrice.com? 
Yes, most Custom Calling features are available and additional enhanced services are available from some carriers. There may be issues with two features: voice mail and inside wire maintenance. Voice mail may not be offered or be limited to certain geographic areas. Additionally, the competitive local carrier may provide an enhanced service that provides more features than your incumbent carrier offered. Wire maintenance may not be offered in all areas.
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What are Custom Calling features? 
Custom Calling features offer added capabilities to your service that greatly improve your service's usefulness and security. The following is a list of the most common Custom Calling Features: 

  • Anonymous Call Rejection - Works with Caller ID to stop incoming calls from anonymous callers who have blocked their numbers. 
  • Auto Redial - Continually redials a busy number for up to 30 minutes. A distinctive ring alerts you when the number being redialed becomes available. 
  • Call Blocker - Automatically rejects calls from numbers you specify or the last number that called you. You will never hear a ring when a blocked number calls you - the calling party will hear a recording: " We're sorry, the party you are calling is not accepting calls at this time."
  • Call Forwarding - Basic Call Forwarding automatically forwards calls to any number you choose. There are a variety of options and enhancements available with Call Forwarding that forward calls on busy, don't answer, and both busy and don't answer. Selective Call Forwarding forwards selected calling numbers to numbers that you choose and Remote Access Call Forwarding lets you direct calls to another number when you're away from your phone.
  • Call Return - Automatically dials your last incoming call. 
  • Call Waiting - Lets you put one call on hold while you answer a second one, then alternate between the two. If a third caller attempts to reach you they will receive a busy signal.
  • Call Waiting ID - Call Waiting ID works with Caller ID to let you see the number of the incoming call so you can decide if you want to switch to it.
  • Caller ID - Shows the name and number calling before you pick up the phone. This service requires a phone or adjunct unit equipped for Caller ID.
  • Call Trace - This is an expensive service that traces an offending call immediately after it comes in and provides the necessary documentation to take legal action.
  • Centrex - A business oriented local service that provides Custom Calling features in addition to PBX like features.
  • Distinctive Ring / Priority Call - Makes your phone ring distinctively for calls from up to ten selected numbers.
  • Speed Calling - Lets you assign your most frequently dialed numbers to one digit numbers.
  • Three-Way Calling - Allows three people in three different places to talk on the same line at the same time - a simple version of conference calling. 
  • Voice Mail - Provides answering machine like services. This service may not be available from all competitive local exchange carriers.
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What are the enhanced features available from the new competitive carriers? 
An example of an enhanced feature is "Notify Me" - a feature that automatically notifies you via pager, cell phone, or chat service when you have received a voice mail message. Another example is "Find Me" - a call forwarding feature that will try all of your contact numbers in succession (home, work, cell, etc.) before taking a voice mail message. 
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Can I switch my local carrier if I currently have ISDN or DSL Internet service? 
Generally no. There are technical and support system issues that preclude switching your service if you have ISDN or DSL with many competitive local service suppliers. Several carriers on the SmartPrice.com site provide DSL services so it may be possible to drop service with your old carrier and reestablish it with your new one. 
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Can I add or change features after I've switched to my new carrier? 
Yes. You may call your new carrier to add or change features as you wish. However, we recommend that you wait to contact them until they send you your first bill or notification that your switch is complete.
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Will I get a refund from my current local carrier if I've paid in advance or made a deposit? 
Your current local company will issue a refund check within the next 30 days for any pre-paid service you haven't used and any deposit they may be holding.
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Will any installation work need to take place at my home? 
No, the changeover will take place completely over the network. You won't notice any difference and you won't have an interruption in service.
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Are there any contracts or term commitments required? 
There aren't any contract or term commitments required for residential customers. Some of the more aggressively priced plans for business customers do require a contract. 
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