Long 
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November 1, 2014

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  •  Why We Do This
  •  How We Really Do It
  •  How You Can Help: Letting The World Know About Us
  •  Who "we" Are
  •  Your Privacy At ABTolls.com
  • Why We Do This Back To Top 

    The 1982 Consent Decree between the U.S. Dept of Justice and AT&T divested 'Ma Bell' of its Bell Operating Companies (BOCs). Today the U.S. consumer enjoys the lowest priced, widest ranging suite of telecommunications services in the world. Sadly, this telecommunications nirvana has failed to spread to the monthly phone bill. Finding straightforward information on pricing is challenging, to say the least. As a final service to the customer, U.S. telecommunications companies appear to have adopted the 'hire-a-comedian' approach to information dissemination.

    The creators of ABTolls.com were sitting around a fine restaurant table one evening talking about the state of the telecommunications industry. They realized that although the internet is the bridge to the 21st century, and all that jazz, that it could also serve as a wonderful information source for the plain old telephone industry (POTI?). They batted around the idea for a bit and decided to create a central location for information on the telecommunications industry. It would be a place to find information on the long distance carriers, find out about the best rate plans (we all know that rate plans are way too complex for consumers to track!), and find some interesting tidbits about the industry. If you have tidbits to share feel free to send them to us! We'd especially like to collect old Ma Bell, MCI and Sprint stories from pre-1982 participants. If that's you, send in your story!

    We are of the mindset that the true benefit of the internet is establishing communication between people with like interests the world over. Having worked with the internet in academic settings well before its commercialization we still hold true to the "old internet" mindset of helping others. Unfortunately, websites are an expensive proposition (particularly when they become popular). When we can, we establish an agency relationship to help fund this site. Where we can't, we list the rates anyway. We are strongly opposed to commercial relationships tainting information on a website and WILL NOT accept offers to "play" with the listings to favor certain companies over others. So if you represent a company please don't ask!

    What we ask from you is that if you find the site useful and choose to order some services that you do so through the link on the rate charts. If we have an agency relationship this will help support the site. If we don't, that's our problem; we list the rates of all the responsible plans we hear about. Please note that we ARE NOT a long distance company and only list the various services that are available out there. We can't provide you long distance service directly (but if we could you can bet it would be the cheapest one :). We can only refer you to our rate charts (and the links on them) for further information.

    Thank you for visiting ABTolls.com, and please tell your friends about the site if you have found it useful.

    How We Really Do It Back To Top 

    So you want to know how this whole thing operates, eh? Here is the story. We gather information from all the users of ABTolls.com and our contacts in the telecom world. They share information about the various long distance plans available out there. We then check out those plans and turn to company directly for more details and all the nitty gritty stuff. We do our best to get accurate information, but of course we can't afford to make any guarantees. We always recommend that consumers get the details of any plan in writing before switching service providers. We consider the information on a company's website to be 'written' for our purposes. Please help us fine-tune the database by e-mailing us your corrections at:corrections. User input is important in helping us maintain the accuracy of the database.

    We enter all the gathered information into our rates database by standardizing it using these rules:
    1. The true company providing the service is listed when we can figure it out. For instance, if AT&T markets its dial-around plan as Lucky Dog it is listed as AT&T Lucky Dog. We want to try to let the consumer know who is behind each of the marketing offers they hear about.
    2. Since each carrier collects the FCC's PICC and USF fees differently, we incorporate their unique charges into their rates. Some companies choose to charge these fees as a monthly lump sum and others do it as a percentage. We place the lump sums into the monthly fees column and modify the rates column to include any percentage charges. That is why the monthly fee might be listed as .07 for a plan that is marketed as no monthly fee.
    3. Some "creatively marketed" plans have misleading deals regarding the number of minutes per call. What we have listed is how much a 1 minute call would cost using the plan. If that first minute provides you 19 "free minutes" after that we list that in the notes. So many calls do not live up to 20 minute minimums, etc. that this is the best way we could think of accurately standardizing the rates in a useful way.
    4. All plans are assumed to have a 1 minute minimum (at the rate posted), and 1 minute billing increments. If the plan offers different terms this is noted on the Plan Details FAQ page, which can be viewed by clicking "Get Details." Please note that a 6 second or 1 second billing increment can save you A LOT of money if you make a lot of short calls or send a lot of faxes. In our automated pricing tools we automatically take these billing increments into account to get you closer to fully understanding the advantages of smaller billing increments.
    5. Plans are listed in the sort order you choose on our rates pages. If two carriers have the same rate, the order is randomized.

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    US! Back To Top 

    For those who have made it this far and are still interested in more information, see who we really are...

    Scott McCoy is a Senior Network Administrator in the Center of the Universe. Formerly he worked as a Network Analyst at an intimate public institution of higher learning set in a redwood forest overlooking the Monterey Bay. He believes that clear pronunciation and ascii text are the keys to good communication. He had 3 phone lines into his house when we started A Bell Tolls. Now he enjoys a 100Mb connection onto the net from a safe-house in Berkeley. When hungry he checks out the vibrant Berkeley restaurant scene for the perfect curry.

    Justin Pollock recently relocated to Washington, DC. An experienced educator and facilitator, Justin has worked as a classroom teacher for impressionable 6th graders in Oakland, CA; founded Project LEAD IT, a teacher development program designed to build leadership skills in classroom teachers; and worked as a organizational and technology consultant for non-profits and educational institutions. In his spare time, he remodels anything he can in his home. He is an avid outdoorsman who uses all jobs as a means to have fun outside (and to enjoy the above mentioned vibrant Berkeley food scene when he returns to his roots). Justin's history includes several years working in the computer industry, a lucrative endeavor he gave up to go to graduate school at Stanford. He then taught the above mentioned youth, a slightly less lucrative choice. And finally, he moved to the self-employed, education and non-profit consulting world to see how little money he could possibly make ;)

    Marc-David L. Seidel is an associate professor at the Sauder School of Business (University of British Columbia). He holds a Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley, and an M.B.A. and B.A. from Cornell University. Marc-David has worked with the internet since 1985. He is also the founder of Airlines of the Web, which has been online since early 1994. His true passion is travel, taking every opportunity possible to hop on a plane to some far off land and meet interesting people. Thus, Marc-David has a huge phone bill that he always tries to minimize.




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