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Archive for July 20th, 2007

Local long distance

Posted by urufish on July 20, 2007

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I dont know if the title expression really exists in English.  I’ve used it for many years to distinguish between calling places close to you and calling far away.  Uruguay is a small country, by everyone’s standards.  From a Canadian’s standard, it’s a postage stamp.  To my way of thinking, calling anywhere in Uruguay is ‘local long distance’. 

Antel’s interpreation of long distance is similar to most telco’s the world over.  They arbitrarily decide where people will accept being charged for LD and that’s where they draw lines to charge you extra.  I am nowhere near an expert on this, having lived for 20+ years in Piriapolis and reviewing my wife’s phone bills for the 4 months a year she spent there.  I recall that calling Montevideo and Maldonado were toll calls.  Makes sense.  I mean what wouldn’t be a toll call from Piriapolis?  Punta Fria?  Bella Vista? 

Well, as of June 1st, 2007, as a result of the federal government’s wish that all Uruguayans everywhere in the country should be one happy family, local long distance charges were abolished.  You can now call anywhere in the Republica Oriental del Uruguay toll free. 

I didn’t say free, I said toll free.  You have always had to pay pulsos/computos.  These are ‘minutes’ of usage.  You pay a very low monthly fee, around U$S10 for basic service.   You pay no more if everyone calls you.  But if you call someone else, you pay a small minute charge.  The good news is that you no longer pay LD charges on top of this.  To recover the money lost from LD, the government approved a slight increase in this pulso/computo fee.  I didn’t see a difference on my phone bill. 

I wonder if there are other countries that have national toll free calling from traditional ILEC’s, (like SBC, Qwest, Verizon).  We all know that it’s offered for a premium monthly fee from the new flock of VoIP providers… but they’re freeloading (one man’s view) on the internet access you pay for on top of your phone.  And it’s a premium monthly fee. 

Of course, the US and Canada are bigger countries, with more wire and more facilities.  But there are more people with more disposable income.  I’d say we were even. 

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