Covista Communications was one of the first (and
only) long distance providers to introduce a legitimate 3.9¢ per
minute state-to-state long distance rate. Many consumers wonder
what the "catch" is with this offer? Well, here's the "catch",
if you want to call it that...
Covista is able to make a profit on this program
for a variety of reasons, but the biggest factor by far is the
fact that they only accept customers from "Regional Bell" areas.
So, you may only subscribe to the service if you currently use
Pacific Bell, SBC, Ameritech, BellSouth, USWest/Qwest, or some
parts of Verizon as your local phone company. The majority of
Americans still use these companies for local service, but those
who don't will have to find a different long distance carrier
The reason behind this move is the fact that some
local phone companies charge higher fees than others to connect
the calls of long distance carriers. Regional Bells charge the
least, by far. By limiting their customer base to areas where
access charges are the lowest, the company is able to sell at
3.9¢ and still make a profit.
Among the other reasons that Covista is able to
offer such low rates is the fact that they do not offer "casual
calling", sometimes known as dial-around service. This, coupled
with the fact that they run credit checks on all new accounts,
keeps their fraud rate among the lowest in the industry. Less
fraud means lower operating costs.
The company also does NOT use inbound/outbound telemarketers
for soliciting business or taking orders. All orders must arrive
via the Internet, by fax, or by mail. This cuts down on operating
expenses enormously. The downside is that you will have to confine
any pre-sales inquiries to email, as they only provide their toll-free
customer service number to existing customers. New customers are
emailed the number immediately upon enrollment via the Internet.
Covista has been around for quite some time, formerly
being known as US WATS and Capsule. CoVista is a large, publicly-traded company (NASDAQ: CVST), and
has an excellent reputation.
Our own customer's experiences with the company
have been a bit mixed since its initial launch 1989. Covista has
come a long way in recent years though. This has included expanding
and improving their fiberoptic network, reducing rates, and improving
customer service. Right now, their network is flawless, their
rates among the best in the industry, and their customer service
is more than adequate for both residential and large commercial
accounts. They are a fine choice for any consumer that spends
around $20 or more each month on long distance service.
Covista acts as both a carrier and as a reseller,
depending upon the customer's location and other factors. New
Covista customers may be provisioned to one of several PIC/CIC
codes or networks. These include the networks of Global Crossing
(1010444), CoVista (1010081), and the former US WATS (1010200)
network. You can NOT order Covista's service through your local
phone company, since what code you will be assigned depends upon
a variety of factors, mainly which area of the country you live
in. Covista sends all orders directly to the local phone company
themselves, after you enroll and your application is processed.
Covista generally processes orders within two business days.
We should add that Covista's toll-free, inbound
service is among the lowest-priced you will find anywhere. If
you are looking to switch your business' outbound and inbound
long distance service, Covista has a rate that is tough to beat.
So, what is the downside to Covista? Well, you can't
use them at all if you do not have a Regional Bell as your local
phone company. Also, those who bill less than $20 per month, or
do not wish to use their credit card-based auto-pay feature, will
likely get hit each month for a $1.99 service charge. If you do
not wish to pay your bill automatically via credit card each month,
or do not spend at least $20 on long distance service, you may
want to take a look at a different program that carries no monthly
minimums or service charges.
Covista is a lot like some of the discount airlines
that have started to appear in recent years. The fares are cheaper
than the big airlines, but you still get to the same airport you
would have been arriving at anyway. You may not get a free bag
of peanuts or an in-flight movie by choosing Covista Communications
as your long distance provider, but you will likely save a lot
of money over carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, or MCI.
- William Van Hefner
Outbound Long Distance
Interstate Rate: 3.9¢ per minute Billing Increments: Straight 6-second billing increments
on all domestic calls 06/06. International calls are billed in 6
second increments with a 30 second minimum per call 30/06 Monthly Minimum: None Monthly Service Charges: No monthly fee if you sign
up for AUTOPAY billing option or if your total bill (less taxes)
for all lines and services is over $20 each month. $1.99 billing
fee is charged when your bill is under $20 for all non-Autopay customers Service Class: Business or residential Billing Method: Via U.S. Mail and/or online billing Payment: Check, money order by mail. AMEX, Discover,
Mastercard, and Visa ONLY through the Direct Bill Plus and Autopay
options (online billing) Payment Methods: Mail, Internet Pre-Paid Service?: No Geographic Availability: Regional Bell territories
of Continental U.S. only (Pac Bell, USWest/Qwest, Ameritech, BellSouth,
SBC, some Verizon territories) Accounting Codes: Not Available Security Codes: Not Available International Rates:Click
Here Non CONUS Calls: AK, HI 15¢/min, USVI, PR 14¢/min Directory Assistance: 65¢ per call Pays Switching Fees?: For commercial accounts only PIC/CIC Code: Varies by region Business PICC Fees: $4.31/mo. per business line Intralata Rates: Regional service is available at
Intrastate rates listed below
Interstate Rate: 3.9¢ per minute Intrastate Rate: Same Intrastate rates as for outbound
service (above) Billing Increments: Straight 6-second billing increments
06/06 Monthly Minimum: None Monthly Service Charge: None Set-Up Fees: $2 per number setup fee for residential
customers only Service Class: Business or Residential Payphone Surcharge: 35¢ per call Stand Alone Service Available?: No Ordering Procedure:Click
Here Transfer Existing Number:Download
Domestic Rate: 10¢ per minute Billing Increments: Six seconds, with 30 second minimum
per call 30/06 Per Call Surcharge: None Other Fees: $2 one-time setup charge per card Stand-Alone Card Available?: No Payphone Surcharge: 35¢ per call International Termination: No International Origination: No International Rates: N/A
Here Fax, Mail Orders: Not Available Telephone Orders: Not Available Toll-Free RESPORG Form:Click
Classification: Carrier, reseller Toll-Free Customer Service: 8 a.m. EST to 8 p.m. EST
M-F Operator Assistance: Available 24/7 Underlying Carriers: Global Crossing (1010444), US
WATS (1010200), CoVista (1010081) Year Established: 1989 Company Structure: Corporation. A wholly-owned subsidiary
of Covista Communications, a publicly traded company (NASDAQ: CVST) CEO: John Leach, President, CEO - CoVista Communications,
Inc. Mailing Address:
Two Greenwood Sq., Ste. 275
3331 Street Rd.
Bensalem, PA 19020
The Fine Print
Rates quoted are only available using online sign up. We can NOT
sign-up new customers via telephone. It is NOT possible to "self-PIC"
yourself to this service through your local telephone company without
first signing up for an account.
Service is ONLY available to customers in Regional Bell Territories.
These include customers of Pacific Bell, SBC, Ameritech, USWest/Qwest,
BellSouth, Nevada Bell, former territories of Bell Atlantic, NYNEX
and NJ Bell portions of Verizon. Service is NOT available to customers
in most areas served by Verizon (old GTE, Contel territories),
Sprint United, AT&T local, Cox, RCN, or any competitive local
exchange carriers (CLECs), UNE-P providers (Talk America, Z-Tel,
etc.) or local resellers. Check order
form for current location availability.