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A BETTER WAY TO ROAM Undermining Outrageous Cellular Charges
Jeff Turner, InTouch USA

Business travelers and their cellular phones have a love-hate relationship. They love staying connected to the rest of the world, but they hate the fact that using that phone in a distant location to call long distance can be incredibly complicated and expensive. Roaming charges, long-distance charges and "dead zones" only add to the frustration.

But there is a way for travelers to get back on friendly terms with their cellular phones. Prepaid cellular (PCS) cards allow virtually any cellular phone to be used to call across the country or around the world,

When you###re roaming on a cell phone, you have no control over which long distance carrier you use. Even though you chose a long distance carrier when you signed up for the phone, that doesn###t mean anything once you start roaming. The cellular provider whose system you###re roaming on assigns you to the long distance carrier of their choice, and it###s usually an expensive one. When you###re roaming, calling long distance from your cell phone can be as bad as calling from a hotel in terms of expense.

PCS cards take care of the airtime charges, roaming charges and long distance charges to anywhere in the continental United States for a low rate. And, because it###s prepaid, nothing shows up on the cellular bill, giving needed privacy and a way to separate out personal and business calls on one phone.

The prepaid cards work with customers### existing phones, regardless of whether they are traditional cellular or PCS and without regard to which cellular provider they use. A network of cellular providers now operates in 25 cities, which are listed on the back of the card. But the prepaid cellular part of the card only works in those cities. For travelers without a cellular phone, a PCS card also has a separate PIN number to access the prepaid long distance account from any land line phone.

Prepaid international calling is another benefit. Traditional cellular providers can###t support international long distance. And using a phone card designed for use with land lines on a cellular phone means getting hit with a triple whammy: airtime charges, roaming charges and international long distance charges. A PCS card allows travelers to use any cellular phone to call anywhere in the world. Airtime charges and roaming charges are taken care of with the prepaid cellular portion of the call, and the long distance charges are debited at rates specified on an insert packaged with the card."

Putting together a system that works for prepaid roaming and long distance is a long process, and not an easy one to explain. As more companies offer prepaid cards and prepaid cellular, it will be easier for consumers to understand the process. Right now prepaid providers are working to educate consumers more about what charges they###re being hit with on their cellular bills. If they don###t know how much they###re paying to roam or call long distance, then they won###t understand what a huge savings prepaid offers.


Jeff Turner is president of InTouch USA in Chantilly, Va., a pioneer in the prepaid cellular market. For more information about prepaid cellular or PCS cards, call 800.872.7626, ext. 102. Article reprinted courtesy of Article Resource Associaton,