Tech@Work: The Scoop on One-Rate Plans

Digital services give you access galore, competitive rates

November 1, 1998

You've probably seen advertisements for a new cellular service called digital one-rate plans. Well, you may now want to give the one-rate idea a try.

Digital one-rate programs don’t charge roaming or long-distance fees for U.S calls. So a local call in Ann Arbor, Mich., costs no more or less than a call from Ann Arbor to California. And the time of day you make calls doesn’t matter.

Also, what used to be premium services are now typically bundled into the plan. I pay no extra charges for unlimited voice mail, call waiting, and caller ID.

Now, when I leave town, I forward my office phone to my cell phone, since there's no long-distance charge.

If a call comes in while I'm on another call, I can use the call-waiting feature or let voice mail pick it up. Since the phone has an on-screen message indicator, I know when there's a message.

Changing my call patterns has maximized my one-rate benefit. When I travel, I use my cell phone exclusively, even for local calls.

I also make long-distance calls from home on my cellular phone. Since I'm buying a set amount of time (in my case, 1,000 minutes for $120), I lose value if I don’t use the time I paid for.

At 12 cents per minute, my one-rate plan offers a better rate than many landline phones. High-volume one-rate programs often bring the cost per minute down to less than a dime.

There are limitations. My travels take me to areas where I can’t use the phone 10 percent to 15 percent of the time, because many of the conveniences, such as caller ID, don’t work in analog mode. In traveling, I often roam on analog networks, typically found in rural areas.

In addition, standby time (the number of days you can leave your phone on to receive calls) is available only when the phone is in digital mode.

Further, not all parts of the country are covered by roaming agreements with the big carriers.

Limitations aside, one-rate programs are close to ideal if you're a real estate practitioner who lives in an area covered by a digital network. Here's why:

  • You tend to spend a great deal of time out of the office, but in your local area.
  • You tend to have longer-than-usual conversations (hand-holding, asking about the kids, explaining the process) with clients and customers.
  • Many clients and customers are relocating over a long distance. Whether you call them or they call you, you won't pay roaming or long-distance charges.
  • One missed call in this business can cost you thousands of dollars.

Although the expense of the new cellular services might seem high at first blush, the one-rate concept can offer value when used effectively. I pay $120 a month, but I save roughly $35 on my regular long-distance; $8 by dropping my old voice mail (it’s already included in my cellular plan); $10–$15 on calls made on pay phones and in hotels; and the $40–$50 I was spending on my traditional cellular service. My net cost for all the added conveniences is no more than $27 dollars a month. And that doesn’t take into account the value of never missing an important business call.

In addition to instructing GRI programs, Stephen Canale has spoken at hundreds of seminars in 45 states, covering subjects relating to real estate sales and technology. For more information on his products, newsletter, and seminars, visit www.canale.com.

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