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Long-Distance Phone Rates Survey

From United Press International

A new survey of competing long-distance telephone rates showed Tuesday that Com Systems offered the cheapest rates for San Diego residential customers, while Allnet’s rates were the highest.

The survey, released by the California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG), found little difference in the rates charged by nine of the 10 long distance carriers operating in the San Diego area.

The “1990 Long Distance Survey” report, CalPIRG’s second in five years, also found that escalating competition among carriers has paid off for consumers in lowered residential rates.

MCI was conspicuously absent from the survey. The nation’s second-largest carrier declined to participate, despite repeated requests for rate information, said survey director Jeffrey Francis.

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MCI spokesman Tom Stimmel said he had tried to comply with CalPIRG’s request but was unable to get the appropriate information from company headquarters.

The other companies provided a sum of charges for 10-minute calls from San Diego to nine U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago and New York.

Com Systems’ total bill for 270 minutes of long distance service was $41. The same service provided by Allnet cost $46.21.

U.S. Sprint, the third largest U.S. carrier, had the second-lowest rate total with $42.53. AT&T;, the nation’s largest carrier, had the third-highest rates with $45.26.

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The other five, ranked in descending lowest order, were TMC with $42.85; Metromedia ITT with $43.50; Express Tel with $43.61; Escondido Telephone with $44.27; and Execuline of Sacramento with $45.36.

Although the gap between the cheapest and the most expensive carriers was less than $6, Francis noted that, “over the course of a year, you’re looking at a good $60 to $100 for the average residential customer.”

The “1990 Long Distance Survey” CalPIRG report also broke down differences among day, evening, night and weekend rates, and among rates to different cities.

The report concluded that carriers often tailor discounted rates to suit wildly varying service needs. Consumers were urged to keep track of their personal patterns before choosing a carrier.

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“For example, if you find a majority of your calls are placed during daytime hours, Express Tel might be able to save you some money. Com Systems is an excellent choice if you use the evening hours for calling, or if most of your calls are made to the Los Angeles area,” the report said.

Francis emphasized that the nine carriers offer different rates to business customers. Francis said that CalPIRG has chosen Allnet as its own carrier, despite its high showing in the residential survey.


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