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Guidelines to help make your decision easier:

1// Choose a service that offers the cheapest rates for your calling pattern. (look at last year's telephone bills to see where you called, when you called and the length of your call for each location). If you are a heavy long-distance phoner, a company's minimum monthly charge may be good for you. If you make a few long distance calls, however the minimum charge might be more than your average telephone bill.

2// Some companies have monthly usage requirements and/or volume discounts. Again, choose according to your calling plans. If you make only a short calls a month you'll be hard pressed to justify the minimum. If you have high long-distance bills, a volume discount may offer big savings.

3// Consider whether a company charges by distance or according to its service abilities in the areas you call call most frequently. If you tend to call distant or hard-to-reach places, a "cheap " service with fewer connections may end up costing you more.

4// Rounding off the numbers of minutes per call can add as much as 10% to your phone bill, especially if you make a lot of shorter calls. Check to see if the company you are considering rounds to the minute of the tenth of a minute.

5// Test each long-distance carrier that you consider for line clarity and ease of connection. There is still big difference among services.