There's an old saying you've probably heard “ Two things you don't want to see made are laws and sausages". Well, I'd like to add a third to that: phone calls.
Most people think that once you pay for phone service, you just press send and talk. From the perspective of the consumer that's pretty much true, but your phone call has a more complicated journey ahead of it. Depending on where and when you're calling, your call could pass through your phone company, a middle-mile carrier, a local exchange carrier and maybe even a major wireless company before reaching your friend Sally's cell phone. All of those companies in the middle get paid. Not by you directly you pay your carrier for access, your carrier pays all the other companies along the way for the usage (AKA access in telco speak).
Think of it as negotiating a set rate home from the airport. You pay a single price; the cabbie pays all the tolls along the way. Same thing, different pipes.
When we say our service is free, people don't get it. How can it be free? Someone's got to be making money, right?
Right. You pay your carrier, your carrier pays one of our local exchange carrier partners and we share the access charges with them. So it's free to you, because you've already paid for a long distance plan.
People like free. Just like people like sausages. They're easy on the taste buds. We're easy on your wallet.