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United States of America (USA) - Communications (Telephone, Post, Internet, TV, Radio)


Telephone

Phone services are in flux in America. Cellular (mobile) phone use has increased so much that some people are moving towards getting rid of the old fashioned type of “in-home” phone line (also known as a “land line”) altogether. Service providers for land lines and cellular phone companies differ. It is possible to have an international cellular phone line that you keep when you relocate. If you use a “standard land line” then you will use the main local utility and you will also have a choice regarding your long distance service provider. Digital telephone services are increasingly available from cable TV providers. To find your local telephone company or a list of cell phone providers in your area, look in the Yellow Pages of your local phone book.

Many expats use Skype as a cheap alternative to a land line. Skype is an Internet-based phone service that is popular as a way of keeping in touch with family and friends around the world. With Skype, calls between users are free. Users can also place cheap calls to non-users using a computer or a Skype phone. Video conferences and live chats are also possible through Skype. More information about Skype, including the program download, can be found on the official web site: www.skype.com.

The emergency telephone number is 911. Be prepared to give the address you are calling from in the event of an emergency.

The telephone operator number is 0.

Telephone number information from the telephone service: for local and national numbers dial 1411; for 800 numbers dial 1-800-555-1212.

Post/mail

You will automatically have postal service as soon as you rent or own a residence. If you want to, you can get a post office box instead of or in addition to having residential service.

Current postal fees are $0.42 per one ounce or less in an envelope within the country. It costs a great deal more once mail goes international; however, it may only require two or three stamps if it's within North America. There are postal offices in nearly every town, and some large cities will have several post offices. The postal service and all the mail traveling within it are protected by federal law for privacy and service. To interfere with proper postal delivery is a federal crime. Generally speaking, it is a very reliable, safe service.

For information regarding postal services, or to find your nearest post office, visit the United States Postal Service's official web site at www.usps.com.


Internet

You can find your choice of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the yellow pages. Initial hook up fees should run $50 or less when you have all the necessary equipment. You can decide whether you want to use a modem dial-up system or broadband where available. Broadband services are frequently available from the cable TV providers. A list of ISPs can be found in the Yellow Pages.


Television

To watch television in America, all you have to do is buy one! This gives you access to three to four local channels that have well over 10 hours of programming daily. However, effective June 2009 television in the US is completely digital and broadcasting of the analog signal is ceased. Access to these local stations will required a set-top box, unless digital signal is already being provided by a cable or satellite provider.

Americans are “television connoisseurs” and have grown accustomed to having access to tens, sometimes hundreds, of channels, many that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Most of this is accessed via either satellite or cable. The installation fees are significant, but maintaining them is less costly.


Radio

Radio is freely available on the AM & FM frequencies. Popular music powered by advertising dollars is the main output of contemporary American radio, although many other programs (news, discussion, theatre, etc.) are available.


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