Long Distance Carriers

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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All long distance carriers in the United States today use the same fiber optic networks to provide their telecommunications services. One group offers both land-based and wireless. Another offers only wireless. A third offers only land-based, which it buys wholesale from the larger carriers and resells at a discounted rate.

The major long distance carriers--AT&T, MCI, Sprint, and Verizon--are high profile companies. The wireless-only providers--Cingular, T-mobile, and Nextel--are as well. Some of the discount resellers are well known, some are not. This group includes CogniPhone/CogniState, Opex, Qwest, and Z-Tel.

Competition is stiff in the post-1984 era. Choosing among long distance services means you have more options than you did in 1884 or 1914 or 1954. You might want to select a single company to do business with on an ongoing basis. This service might include a land line, and might not. Other options include long distance phone cards and dial-around service. The choice is yours.

Choosing Long Distance Carriers in the 21st Century

All told, there are more than 1,100 companies offering long distance service. Because all of them use the same networks, the quality of your connection will be the same no matter which company you select. The differences will come in customer service and billing practices. It's up to you to weigh the pros and cons of marketing offers. You will face them--both federal law and the FCC prohibit a phone company from switching long distance carriers without authorization from the customer.

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