Is Free Long Distance Really Free?

We’ve all heard that there’s no such thing as free.With telecommunications, this is just as true as it is with any other “free” service.

First, let’s clear something up.I want to make sure we know we are ignoring the things you get for free that you know are being offered for marketing purposes.I can think of lots of examples here.Skype, Facebook, YouTube, Google (and Gmail), and LinkedIn.

Let’s use LinkedIn for this discussion.LinkedIn has a free service that is offered as a way to entice just about every business professional to set-up an account.Even if you don’t have much use for it, you probably have a LinkedIn account – just to say you do.

One of our telecom organizations used LinkedIn last year to verify that people voting for the best telecommunications companies were, in fact, actively involved in telecom.If you didn’t have a LinkedIn account, you and your vote were not taken seriously.

LinkedIn is promoting its premium service that allows you to really use the power of LinkedIn.With a paid-for premium account, you can contact people that you might not otherwise be able to reach. If you’re a sales professional, it could be a “bargain” to pay for a LinkedIn premium account.The free service might actually prove to be costing you money – in lost business.

We could use the same thought process with countless other free services – many of which are delivered on the world wide web.

Let’s turn to the subject of free long distance.Remember, I said free is not really free.

When a telephone company offers free long distance, they are “banking” on the law of averages.If too many customers use too much of their services, the fixed monthly charge that comes with free long distance will not cover their cost of doing business.Those costs include:

  • Bandwidth to handle the call traffic
  • Termination charges that are imposed by the receiving telephone company
  • Equipment to “interpret” the data posing as voice along the way

What would I like to leave you with?Most telephone companies have protected themselves in the “fine print” of their contracts.If you are using more services than they’ve allocated to you, they will charge you for them – even if you were “sold” that the monthly charge included unlimited free long distance.I imagine that an unexpected bill for “free” long distance would be an unpleasant surprise.Better to know in advance that free may not really be free.

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