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The True Cost of Free Conference Calling

by Mike Oeth

Calls to (712) 432-xxxx and (712) 338-xxxx will be charged at $0.50 per minute.

Published: November 11, 2009

There is no easy way to say this. Starting Friday November 13, 2009, calls to these seemingly free conference services and other reverse billing services will be charged at $0.50 per minute. Starting Friday November 13, 2009, the affected rate centers are: (712) 432-xxxx and (712) 338-xxxx

The Problem:

Calls to these rate centers are 20 times more expensive than a ‘normal’ call. Junction Networks cannot afford to subsidize these services and at the same time maintain our competitive pricing. We have only two options available to us – block calls to those numbers or charge the true market rate. We have chosen the latter. The exposure of the reverse billing services has been in the news quite a bit lately. Some carriers have chosen to simply block these numbers. Speakeasy has an extensive list. Even Google has apparently noticed the same issue.

How do I turn on/off the ability to make these calls?

Junction Networks customers have the ability to turn on/off access to any call costing more than $0.029/min. Currently, unless you have filled out our Extended Dialing Form, access to more costly calls is turned off by default. As we do more analysis of our bill, we expect to fine-tune the affected rate centers. Please see our full pricing schedule. We know this will affect a number of our customers, as well as Junction Networks, as even we have been using these ‘free’ services. We expect that, as other carriers are handed large, unexpected bills, they will also be forced to pass on the true costs to their customers, or simply block access to these services. Eventually, the entire carrier compensation program that has been in place for decades will be challenged and likely overhauled, thereby ending the loophole that has allowed ‘free’ conference calling to exist. If and when rates to these calling areas return to normal, we will return to our standard $0.029/min for the affected rate centers. As always, we appreciate your business and we do sincerely apologize for any hardship this may create. However, for Junction Networks, the economics are unsustainable.