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The price of a phone bill is affected by several factors, including phone company charges, phone usage, and other products and services to which a phone company customer subscribes. Phone bill costs can vary considerably depending on the area in which a person lives, the types of services she uses, and how much she uses her phone. Many people find that they can significantly lower the cost of their phone bill by choosing bundled services and flat-rate calling plans.
In many places, landline phone service is a public utility overseen by government agencies and subject to various taxes and fees. For example, in the United States, all phone customers must pay a federal excise tax and, in some cases, state and local taxes. In addition, United States phone customers must pay into a Universal Service Fund (USF), which provides access to phone services in rural and sparsely populated areas. In areas where 911 emergency service is available, local governments will typically levy a charge that supports the service. Services such as voice mail, call waiting, and conference calling may be extra charges on the phone bill, though some service providers may include these options in a bundled services package.
Many phone companies continue to offer discounts depending on the time of day that a call is made. Customers who do not have a flat-rate calling plan can often save money by making phone calls on weekends or late at night. In fact, some phone plans offer free calling during these times. Other factors that determine the cost of a call is its length. If the phone company does not offer a cost per call plan, the customer will pay for phone charges by the minute, so the longer the call, the higher the phone bill.
There can be significant differences between the charges on a landline phone bill and a cell phone bill. Both types of service require that the customer have a relationship with a phone provider, which may set different charges or package services at a discount. Landline customers may be able to choose a plan that offers them a flat rate on local and long-distance calls, though there may be a cost per minute for international calls. Those who use a cell phone may likewise pay a flat rate for a certain number of minutes each month or choose a cost-per-minute plan if they don't use their phone very often. Cell phone customers most often pay additional charges for sending text messages, accessing the Internet through their phone, or sending documents or photographs through their phone service.
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