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When buying landline telephone service for your home, you should be aware of several issues, including technological changes impacting the communications network, and ask questions to make sure you are getting the type of telephone service that best meets your needs.

Telephone calls are generally categorized as:

  • Local: Calls made within your immediate area as determined by the exchanges (area codes) in the calling plan and the service provider you choose. It is possible that calls in your own municipality may not be considered local. Be sure to ask or request a list of the exchanges that are part of your local calling plan;
  • Regional: Calls made outside the “local” calling area; and
  • Long Distance: Calls generally made out-of-state.

Always contact your service provider of choice to inquire about their service offerings and available calling plans. You can choose one provider for all your calling needs, or you can select different providers for different types of calls. Federal Law allows you to keep your current phone number when you change providers as long as you remain within the local exchange. When switching providers be sure to tell your provider you want to keep your existing phone number.

Service

Some calling plans offer low-cost local service and charge for regional or long-distance calls while other calling plans set a fixed monthly rate for unlimited calling for different types of telephone calls. Be sure to consider the types of telephone calls you make the most in order to select the most economical calling plan. Be aware that many calling plans offer optional features for an additional charge. Some examples of these include: Caller ID, voicemail, three-way calling, non-published phone numbers, and more. When you place an order for telephone service, make sure you know exactly what you are getting and for what you will be billed. Many communication companies, including cable service providers, offer non-traditional telephone service using voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology. VoIP calls use an internet connection to complete calls. In case of a power outage, VoIP phones require a battery backup power source to remain operational. Often times you must purchase a battery backup separately. Be sure to ask your carrier what, if any, differences you can expect prior to purchasing service.

 

The DTC regulates the telecommunications and cable industries in Massachusetts. As part of its responsibilities, the DTC’s Consumer Division works to resolve disputes that arise between consumers and their telephone or cable service provider.  The Division offers a series of outreach programs to help educate consumers about these industries, and empower them to make smart decisions when evaluating their needs for purchasing these services. For more information or for help with a complaint about your telephone provider, contact the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable.

 

If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer. The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for all Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the State’s lemon laws, data breach reporting, and home improvement contractor programs, and the State’s Do Not Call Registry.

 

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