It has been speculated for some time that land line phone charges will be based on the minute rather than a flat rate charge for the call. From next month, one of the largest telecommunications companies operating in Australia (Telstra) will start to bill customers in 30 second increments for interstate and international calls. If you make a lot of STD or international calls you may like to consider some alternatives that could save you a lot of money in the long run.

One option is using a broadband internet service providers such as VOIP (Voice over IP), that supports popular services such as Skype. This service is easy to set up and user friendly and can be accessed from your normal telephone handset. VOIP calls can be made to any mobile or land line service in the world. You have access to multiple lines and there is one standard fee for the service and no hidden costs. Be aware however that the quality of audio and speech recognition is lesser than your standard land line service and calls may drop out more frequently. If this does not phase you then I recommend this service as a cost effective option.

Also, you may like to consider bundling your communications packages to receive one monthly bill. Some companies offer home phone and internet packages that may include free calls to mobile networks or something similar. The benefits of package bundles is that you can may find you can keep your land line phone to unlimited interstate and local calls.

The Mobile Crunch

There are many loop holes with telecommunications charges and people are increasingly shocked by their bills for Smart Phone devices. New users to mobiles such as iPhones and HTC Dream phones are receiving massive phone bills because they are not totally aware of what they are signing up for.

Accordingly to statistics in 2008 by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, complaints rose by 50 per cent from the previous year from people who were trapped into expensive mobile phone plans. The majority of the complaint stemmed from people misinterpreting the term ‘cap’ on their mobile plans. A ‘cap’ is the maximum value you can use per month on your plan. If you exceed this amount you are subject to metered call or data charges. Depending on the plan, it may apply only to voice, SMS, or data, or cover all three.

One way to monitor your plan and your phone use is to ask your service provider what you can do with the plan. One week into the billing month, call your provider and ask them how much data you have used. In the third week of your billing month, call again to check your data usage. Using this simple method, you will have a firm idea of how much you are spending and if the plan is right for you.