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Phone Companies

Phone companies and systems: which one is right for you?

The variety of phone companies and options available to U.K. residents has never been higher than today. Consumers can choose between traditional landline phone services, cellular phones, and even make calls from their home computers. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type of service, and itís important to think about how you use your phone service to ensure you select the service type and plan thatís right for you.

Traditional landline services use metallic wire or optic fibres to transmit data from one wired point to another, allowing telephone conversation. More specifically, sound waves picked up by a microphone are translated into electrical impulses and transmitted electrically through the telephone lines, then decoded at the other end of the conversation. Landline phones are generally more reliable than other services, and provide higher quality transmission of data, allowing you to hear and be heard more clearly. Optic fibre cables allow for more simultaneous conversations and less degradation of the signal over long distances than traditional copper or aluminium lines. One great advantage of landlines over other forms of telephone service is the ability for emergency service workers to pinpoint the location of calls made; usually the address is displayed for landline phones as soon as the call is answered, allowing help to arrive sooner than if the caller must identify his or her location verbally.

Cellular phones are more common now than ever before. Used as a supplement to traditional landline service or as a replacement for it, they allow telephone calls to be made from virtually anywhere the caller wishes. Cellular plans are generally available in two types: prepaid and contract.

Prepaid services, also known as ďpay as you goĒ accounts, require the use of phone cards to pay for your calls before you make them. When the minutes purchased are used up, you simply purchase another block of minutes and load it into your phone. This plan allows for more flexibility and is a good choice for teenagers or those who do not wish to be locked into a long term contract.

If you want a new cellular phone for free or at a reduced rate, contract cellular service may be the right option. By signing up for cellular service for one or two years, most companies will provide you with a new cellular phone at well below the manufacturerís listed retail price. Contract plans vary in price and features, so be sure to read the fine print before committing yourself to a long-term financial responsibility.

Voice-over-IP, or VoIP, systems use your own computerís internet connection to allow you to make phone calls. There is usually no charge for calls within your home country, but availability of overseas long-distance may be a problem in some cases. Access to these services usually requires a low monthly fee and a special phone adapter to allow you to hook your phone up to the providerís network. Your standard home phone can be used with these services, which can provide a great savings for those who make a number of phone calls each month.

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