Cell Phone Plans

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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Cell phone plans are the make or break of telephone company competition in what is largely a buyer's market. Cell phone technology, after all, is a significant part of the rather astounding revolution in communications of the last decade or so. Cell phones consume little power, operate on radio wave frequencies, and make life incredibly convenient.

Elements of Cell Phone Plans

In thinking about service providers and plan options, a series of questions and answers about a vendor's cell phone plans should lead you to the best choice for your situation. The very first of these is where you live, whether you travel often, and where you travel when you do. Another is how often you talk on the phone, what times of day you most frequently talk, and how long your average conversations are. A third is whether you want wireless Internet access as well as voice services.

At their simplest, monthly cell phone plans are based on a set number of prime time minutes for a set monthly fee. Additional factors that affect the fee include long distance, roaming, in-network calls, and wireless Internet. The fine print is worth heeding. First is the inevitable surcharge for bailing out of a contract before it expires, usually in the $200 range. Second is that advertised rates never include taxes.

Only in 4- or 6-point type are you reminded that surcharges and tax will be added to the advertised rate. To use my own plan and provider of the moment as an example, a monthly rate of $29.99 tallies to $38.17. Why? The additional amount is a combination of a regulatory programs fee, federal tax, state tax, utility surcharge, 911 surcharge, and universal connectivity charge. Suddenly a $30 invoice is a $40 invoice. This is small change and unavoidable, but worth remembering.

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