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"Local Long Distance" and "Intra-LATA" Calling
Who will carry my call ?
How can I save money ?

This is how it works:

Local telephone companies' service areas are broken up into areas called "latas". A lata does not necessarily have the same boundaries as an area code, although they may share some, and occasionally all, the same boundary lines. Latas may cover a portion of, or cross, areas code zones. You can often find a map of your telephone company's lata(s) in the front of your local telephone company's white pages phone book. Here is a map of the LATAs in the USA.

Until a few years ago,  the Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) automatically captured all local and intra-lata calls, unless you manually programmed your call to use a long distance carrier instead. These intra-lata calls are generally broken into several mileage zones by your LEC and various mileage rates apply. Toll calls within your lata are also known as "local long distance" calls. The price of a local long distance call from your LEC may be more or less than what a long distance carrier would charge you for the call. It is possible to call across the street using your long distance carrier, where often your LEC would either not charge you for this local call or you would pay a very nominal rate, and you will pay the LD carrier's intra-lata rate. On the other hand, the LEC may charge you as much as $.25 per minute or more for long distance calls to certain zones within your lata, and they are almost always billed in one minute increments. Generally, the local telephone companies list all of the zones, mileage bands and costs to call each of them for all of their customers in the front of their white pages phone book, or you can call your local operator and ask for a rate quote. It is up to the customer to familiarize themselves with their LEC and long distance carrier's rates; then shop, compare and choose which carrier they wish to use to place the call.

Long distance carriers often have different rates for intra-lata calls (calls within the lata) and intra-state calls (calls within the state but not in the same lata). Many rate plans, however, have intra-lata rates that are the same as the intra-state rates.

You may program your call to bypass your LEC, and use a long distance carrier to make the local call instead, by first dialing the carrier's 7 digit {10-10XXX} access code (known as a PIC code ) and then dialing "1" + "area code" + "number". Even when the party you are calling is in the same area code, you should dial the "1" + "area code" after the PIC code to be absolutely sure your call is captured by your long distance carrier. However, we strongly recommend you do not "dial around" to make long distance calls until you have first contacted the carrier you are going to use to find out what you will be charged.

Within the last few years, the rules have been changed, and most LECs will allow you to "PIC" two different "long distance" carriers:

  • One for your local long distance calls
  • And one for your long distance calls
  • The LEC will carry the local calls, and the local long distance if you designate them.
The LEC will carry your local calls, and the local long distance calls if you designate them.

If you "PIC" your long distance carrier to carry your intralata or local long distance calls, you will  no longer have to "dial around" using a "PIC code" (Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier code)"  to send these calls over your default long distance carrier. You  need to tell your long distance carrier you wish them to carry your local long distance calls at the time of ordering, should you desire this, otherwise you will have to "dial around" using their PIC code AFTER your account is set up with them.

It is up to you to find out who costs more and decide who you want to use. The decision making process in simplified somewhat by "flat rate" Intralata/Intrastate rates. You'll always know what the cost of any in-state call using a flat rate service.

The decision on whom to use to make the call obviously requires some homework on the part of the caller, but your homework can pay off quite handsomely. In some states you could save up to 75% or more on certain calls using an alternate carrier for local long distance calls versus you LEC.

As an example of how you could save if you lived in Escondido, CA, (North San Diego County), to call Chula Vista, Ca (San Diego County), my local telephone company charged me:

$.136/min. for the first minute and $.114/min. for each additional min. on their day rate, billed in one minute increments.
Qwest charged me $.05/min. billed in 6 second increments with an 18 second min. for the same call.

On a 15 second short call, say someone's answering machine, I would save as follows:
Local Carrier charges for 1st minute = $.136
Qwest charges a minimum of 18 seconds: 18/60=.3 minutes .3 mins. x $.05 = $.015

A total savings of 906% !
On a 10 minute call I would save in excess of 228% !

Do your homework in advance and you will get the best rates. Then set up your account in the manner that best suits your needs.


Help Prevent "Slamming"
Get a "PIC Freeze"

A customer may call their Local Exchange Carrier and ask them to put a "PIC Freeze" on their telephone number/s. Customers usually must request a PIC freeze. It is not done automatically, however many long distance carriers place PIC Freezes on customers' lines without them realizing it., you can still be slammed by another carrier using the same underlying carrier with the same PIC code. If you have a PIC freeze on your line, you must call your Local Exchange Carrier (local telephone company) and ask them to remove it before you can change your default long distance carrier. When you choose your default long distance carrier, the LEC automatically dials the default PIC code for you for long distance calls so you only need to dial "1" + "area code" + "telephone number". You may have the PIC freeze reinstated after you have been switched over. 

Copyright 1997-2010 by Tom Shore - All rights Reserved