Choosing a Telephone Service Provider

Choosing a telephone service provider may appear to be an overwhelming task to many who find themselves seeking to replace their existing service provider or to those who may be searching for a company to provide initial service. In either case, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) offers the following information to help you reach a decision.

Since 1984 the interstate and interlata long distance service markets have been opened to competition. In Georgia, local service was opened to competition with passage of the Telecommunications and Competition Development Act of 1995 (SB 137), one year earlier than passage of the Federal Communications Commission 1996 Telecom Act. Passage of these Acts meant that consumers could choose a different carrier to provider their local, intralata, interstate, interlata and/or international telephone services.

In order to provide local service in Georgia, a company must be certified as a competitive local exchange service provider, or to provide interstate, interlata or intralata long distance service a company must be certified as a reseller or an interexchange carrier (ixc). For information about companies authorized to do business in Georgia, search the PSC's telecommunications database by Company Name, Type of Certificate, Geographic Exchange Area. Companies wishing to provide local or long distance services in Georgia must undergo a rigorous process that may include a hearing to determine whether the company has the financial resources and technical capability to provide such services.

When choosing a company, consumers may wish to consider the following: Does the company have a toll-free number? What are the call center's hours of operation? How quickly are the telephones answered in the call center? Were the representatives courteous when you called? What payment options are available? Will a deposit be assessed? If so, what's the maximum amount? Will you have to sign a contract for the service? Is there a cancellation fee for early termination?

Additionally, you may wish to contact the PSC to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. If there have been, the PSC is able to tell you how many and the types of complaints that were filed. Asking your friends and family who they get their services from is another tool to help you make your decision.

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