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On Wednesday, November 29, BellSouth announced that it was launching a new “Toll-free at Home Service” for its current long distance customers. The service includes a toll-free number and a personal identification number (PIN) that subscribers can use to call their home phone numbers from anywhere in the U.S. and Canada. The service is not cheap at 10¢ a minute, but for consumers who want a way for someone from outside their local calling area to call them at no cost, it certainly beats the high fees of collect calls.

The service is available to any BellSouth long distance subscriber and does not have a monthly service fee. This service could be a good option for consumers who have many friends and relatives outside of town and don’t want their callers to have to pay long distance fees. For consumers who only take calls from a few out-of-town callers, however, a better option may be to invest in prepaid phone cards and mail them to the people you want to call you or hand them out at family gatherings over the holidays. The cards that are available for purchase at major discount warehouse stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ's, Wal-Mart, and Target tend to have lower per-munte rates than BellSouth’s toll-free service.

Source: Telecommunications Research and Action Center. http://www.trac.org


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