By way of an answer to various questions on my previous cellphone rant, I present my cellphone bill.
The lowest base rate is $25 dollars. That includes 100 local minutes. It doesn't include the system access fee, 911 fee (that's 911 as in the emergency telephone number, nothing to do with the terrorist attack), or taxes. So if I made no long distance calls and only 100 minutes of calls both to and from my local calling area, the total bill would be $37. Earlier I quoted $50 before calls, because I choose to pay the $35 base rate. It has a couple of features that save me at least $20 later in the arithmetic. Specifically, it includes unlimited nationwide calling and texts to my five "favourite" numbers, which I choose once a month. Seeing as the list generally starts with boss, maintenance, and customer I'm not sure that "favourite" is the best description, but that's what they call it. That probably saves me $15-20 a month, plus the $35 plan includes $10 more "local" minutes than the cheapest, $25 plan.
You might think that I wouldn't need 200 local minutes, because, as a reader put it, "Aviatrix is never in her local calling area," but with my phone company you have to use "local" minutes in order to call long distance. Or as footnote number four on the contract puts it: "Long distance refers to calls originated in Canada and terminated in either Canada or the U.S., except for Hawaii and Alaska. Airtime is not included." That is, any call uses airtime, and long distance calls use airtime plus long distance time. How much? Thirty-five cents a minute each, so long distance is 70 cents a minute, plus tax.
It's not quite that bad, because I can buy either sort of minutes in advance, a hundred at a time, for ten cents each. They don't carry over to the next month and I can't swap local for long distance or vice versa if I make more or fewer local calls than I expect. So I add 200 minutes of long distance for $20, and use the 200 "airtime" minutes that came with the plan so I can actually use the long distance minutes. I add in a $5 package that gives me 250 nationwide text messages (otherwise they'd be 15 cents each).
That gives me:
$35 base rate
$20 200 long distance minutes
$5 250 text messages
.75 Enhanced 911 Access Charge
$6.95 System Access Fee
For a Canadian, that's not an exorbitant phone bill. I only use the phone for work: my friends get e-mail or postcards. I don't use data other than text messages, and we all tend to keep calls short. Reader SwL_Wildcat pays $450-$500 per month, and I must mention his point that the population density is lower and the size of the country higher than anywhere else in the cellphone-equipped world, so perhaps we aren't being ripped off quite as badly as we feel we are.
Were I to use the telephone in the United States it would cost me 95 cents a minute for incoming calls and $1.45 a minute for outgoing calls. Instead I bought an entire phone and 400 minutes of airtime for the price of twenty minutes of talk on the Canadian one.
I find it more tiring to explain my phone bill than to explain how a VOR works. And I'm not going to explain what a system access fee is, but I leave the comments open to any Canadians who wish to explain it.