February 12, 2016
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Recently, television and radio have bombarded us with 10-10 this and 10-10 that ads touting savings on calls under, over, or between 20 minutes. So what are all these 10-10XXX numbers and how do they work?
Dial-around service can save you money. HOWEVER, many dial-around services advertise interesting promotional gimmicks and billing methods that can end up costing you a lot. There may be hidden charges. These can include per-call access fees, minimum usage fees, changing per-minute rates, monthly service charge, and PICC/USF fees. Always contact the service provider before using the service to avoid any surprise charges. For more information about fees and charges, go to our Understanding Common Monthly Fees And Charges page. Visit our Who's Who In The 10-10XXX World to find out which carrier is behind each access code. You may be surprised!
How Do Dial-Around Services Work?
Most of us have a primary interxchange carrier (PIC) that handles our long distance. This may be one of the big guys on the block (MCI, SPRINT, or AT&T) or one of the many other smaller players in the telecommunications industry. When we dial 1+AreaCode+Number, our primary carrier handles the call. However, there is a way to bypass our primary carrier by telling our local switchboard to route our call through another long distance provider. In other words, we can "dial around" our primary long distance carrier. You can also "dial around" your local toll service provider in this way.
Every long distance provider has its own unique seven digit code. This was recently changed from a five digit code, hence the change from 10XXX to 10-10XXX. Many large companies actually have hundreds of access codes registered to them. By dialing this seven digit access code before entering the normal 1+AreaCode+Number, you effectively tell your local switchboard to route that call through the carrier associated with that particular access code. All the charges for that particular call will be made by the carrier associated with the access call. The charges may show up as a separate section on your normal phone bill, may come as a separate bill, or be billed to a credit card. This depends on what arrangements you have set up with the alternative provider.
Based on this definition, dial-around service actually applies to programs beyond just the 10-10XXX access numbers. Providers which allow you to access their network through a toll free number are also effectively dial-around services as they circumvent your primary long distannce carrier. Calling cards are also another form of dial-around service. For definitional purposes, the term "dial-around" generally applies to only 10-10XXX and toll free access providers.
Using a dial-around service may be beneficial to some people based on the primary carrier they use and their personal calling patterns. For example, a specific dial around plan may have great rates to France while your primary carrier has very poor rates to France, but great rates within your state. You may choose to use the dial-around service for those once-a-month calls to the long lost French cousins while using your primary carrier for calls to mom across the state.
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