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Telephone Service

Your telephone is very important. You can use it to keep in touch with family and friends. You can use it to get help in an emergency. You can use it to order pizza!
Unfortunately, you can't use it until you get a phone number.

Once you have settled down in a dorm room or an apartment, installing telephone service can greatly ease communication with family and friends from home, and also your transition into this new environment.

Local Phone Service

You must provide your own telephone. The service charge for starting phone service normally is about $40 to $70. One local company provides service for a certain region, so you must find out which company that is and call them to start service. If you need to install a phone jack, ask your local telephone company about the cost.

Long Distance and International Phone Service

Choosing a long distance and/or international phone company package can be tricky. Depending on which package you sign up for, calling rates can change at a certain times of the day or days of the week. Check with your long distance provider so that you are aware of the rates for different calling times. Some companies charge is a flat monthly fee that you must pay each month for service.
Consider where the majority of your phone calls will be placed, whether only on campus, in the local area or state, throughout the United States, or abroad. Finding the most reasonable rate to your home country is very important.

Internet Access

Internet access might also be an option you want to consider; certain packages include internet access at a discounted rate. Check with your local telephone company for details.

If installing telephone service is out of the question, or something you want to deal with later on, here are some alternatives:

Phone or Calling Cards

You can use calling cards from any telephone, public or private by following the instructions on the card

These cards, as well as other calling cards, are available from AT&T, GTE, MCIWorldCom, Sprint, and some smaller companies. Many other smaller companies provide specialized services, for example, low rates to specific countries or regions. Check out our Telecom Center for low rates on calling cards.

Another option is to purchase pre-paid phone cards. They come in various denominations, usually $10 or $20. They can be purchased at convenience stores or gas stations. Also, small grocery stores and gas stations often sell international pre-paid calling cards. These cards offer very good rates for calls to other countries.

Note: Though the rates are generally very good on these cards, be sure to read all of the details. Most charge a fee of a dolar or two when someone picks up the telephone at the number you dialed. This means that the pre-paid cards you get at conveniance stores are best for longer talks; that way you only get charged for one or two connections.

"10-10" Numbers

So-called 10-10 numbers are very similar to calling cards, with one exception: they bill is charged to the phone from which the calls are placed, so you probably need to use your home telephone, meaning that you would need to have at least a local telephone connection.

Note: 10-10 numbers, like some pre-paid calling cards, may also have high connection fees and hidden charges. Use them carefully.

Cellular Phones

During an emergency situation, or for the sake of greater convenience, obtaining a cellular phone is also a possibility. Many cell phone service providers offer discounted packages, sometimes including the cell phone for free when you sign up with that company for a certain length of time, usually one year.

For more information on these and related issues, check out our Telecom Center.
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