When it comes to long distance phone providers, some are better than others. This may be because of their low rates, superior customer service, billing practices or a combination of these factors. If you are trying to find a good long distance phone provider for your land line, here is a look at the top three long distance providers on the market today.
Enhanced Communications Group (ECG)
We consider ECG to be one of the best–if not the best–long distance providers because of their low rates and great customer service. ECG offers one of the lowest state-to-state rates on the market at 2.5 cents a minute, and they don’t charge a monthly fee or minimum usage fee. They do assess a 99-cent regulatory recovery fee and $2.50 a month for paper billing, but if you choose to get your bills online, you can have access to long distance calls for less than $1 a month.
ECG has billing increments of 6 seconds with an 18 second minimum, which is lower than many providers who have 60 second increments and 60 second minimums. We have had several customers test the response times for their customer service line, and all of them got through in less than a minute.
One downside to ECG is that it is only available in 85% of the country so not everyone has access to this service. If you are not in an area serviced by Baby Bells, you will need to consider another option.
Pioneer Telephone has been in business for a number of years, and they offer unique discounts that put them on our list. For instance, standard state-to-state calls are 2.7 cents per minute, but they are only 1.9 cents per minute if you are calling another Pioneer customer. There is no monthly fee if your bill is greater than $15 a month. If it is less, there will be a 99-cent charge on your account, but that can be waived if you get your bills online.
There is no minimum contract time with Pioneer, and most people who contact customer service get through in less than one minute. The only issue with this company is that they have a 60 second billing increment, with a 60 second minimum. This means if you are on the phone for 10 minutes and 11 seconds, you will be charged for 11 minutes. Despite this, the low rates they have for state-to-state and international calls make them well worth investigating.
Telecom North America (Telna)
Telna once operated under the name 3U, and even then it was considered a great long distance provider. The company offers the lowest billing increments possible: 1 second, with a 1 second minimum. In our example, if you talk for 10 minutes and 11 seconds, you’ll be charged for that exact time. As we showed in the example above, a company like Pioneer would round that time up to 11 minutes.
Telna does not charge a monthly fee unless you receive a paper bill. Then, you will have to pay 99 cents a month. There is no minimum contract time with Telna, so you can switch service providers at any time. Chances are you won’t want to once you start working with them. Our customer service testers found that this company answered the phone in less than one minute every time.
The only negative to Telna’s service is that the per minute rate is rather high. At 4.8 cents a minute, it is nearly double the costs of both ECG and Pioneer. The calls are still cheap in the grand scheme of things, but they are not as low as the others on this list. You have to compare the billing increments with the per minute costs to determine which company will save you the most in the long run.
Each of these three long distance phone providers give great service for an attractive price. You have to decide which one will be best for your personal calling patterns. Weigh out your options, and you’ll soon have an inexpensive and reliable phone provider.