Ratewatcher Telecom Guide Has New Design, Packed With More Money-Saving Information Than Ever

October 2, 2006

Augusta, Maine – Long-distance service, often at less than half the cost of Verizon’s service? Phones that use wireless internet? Use your cell phone minutes with your regular phones? Cheap minute wireless plans that are actually expensive? How can Mainers keep up with the changes in an ever-changing industry, and learn about their rights as consumers? With all of the different choices in telecom products, and all of the confusing advertisements, Maine consumers could use some guidance.

The State of Maine Office of the Public Advocate has just published a new and improved Ratewatcher Telecom Guide – a full-color, 16-page publication made available free of charge to all Maine residents – in print and online. The guide is published twice each year.

“Anyone who uses the phone, the Internet or wireless service can save money and learn something new from the latest issue of Ratewatcher” says Wayne Jortner, an attorney with the State of Maine Office of the Public Advocate. “It is the only source of unbiased, side by side comparisons of all of the important telecom services used by nearly all people in Maine, all in one place”.

The latest issue of the Ratewatcher Telecom Guide sports a new bright and sleek design which allows a lot of detailed information to be displayed in a simple and clear format. Inside, readers will find information on everything from possible invasions of your telephone privacy to information on how to get free 411 information, to keeping a free emergency cell phone.

The guide shows detailed rate comparison charts for local phone service, long-distance service, unlimited calling plans, prepaid calling cards, voice over Internet phone service, cell phone service, prepaid cell phone service, and all types of Internet services. This issue includes a new lower-priced high-speed satellite Internet service – which is available everywhere in Maine and a new higher-speed dial-up service for under $7/month, which could be the best choice for many Maine dial-up customers.

Choosing the right telephone, wireless or Internet service among many competitors is a daunting task for consumers. The Ratewatcher Telecom Guide can make it much easier. Given the complexity of shopping for telephone, wireless, and Internet services, the Public Advocate also makes his staff available to answer questions by phone or email.

The 16-page, full-color Ratewatcher Telecom Guide, is available free of charge to all Maine residents. To request a copy, call 287-2445, send an email message to deborah.a.tondreau@maine.gov or write to the Public Advocate at, SHS 112, Augusta, Maine 04333.

The Ratewatcher Telecom Guide may also be accessed at the Public Advocate’s web site: www.maine.gov/meopa. A PDF document of the print version is available as well as an ADA-compliant online version.

BACKGROUND

The Office of Public Advocate is an 8-person office in Hallowell that was established by the Maine Legislature in 1981 to represent the interests of Maine’s utility service consumers. The Office regularly intervenes at the Maine PUC, the Maine Supreme Court, before the FCC and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Office also appears in the Maine Legislature with testimony on individual bills and has been invited to testify before Congressional committees in Washington, DC.