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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cost of Phoning Abroad to Rise 250%

Some international telephone calls from Moscow will cost more than dialing from the United States or some European countries after a dramatic price increase takes place June 15. On average, Moscow's intercity and international telephone exchange will boost prices by 250 percent in a move aimed at recouping higher operating costs, marketing director Galina Slesareva said Wednesday. "Our expenses are rising practically every week," Slesareva said. "Our costs for energy, taxes, salaries for our workers are constantly going up." After June 15, the base cost of a call to the United States will rise to 3,600 rubles ($1.90) a minute, up from 1,200 rubles today. During the peak hours of 8 A.M. to noon, the price will rise to 5,400 rubles, from 2,400 rubles today, and the cost of operator-assisted calls will be 50 percent higher, or a whopping 8,100 rubles a minute during peak hours. The cheapest time to call will be all day Saturday and Sunday, when the telephone company will offer a discount of 25 percent on base rates, or 2,700 rubles a minute to the United States. Calling Europe will cost 1,125 rubles on weekends, 1,500 rubles during regular dialing hours, and 2,250 rubles during weekday mornings. Due to competition in the United States, some telephone companies offer rates to Russia that will seem like bargains after June 15. Those calling from the United States on the Sprint network can pay as little as $1.37 at all times, a company customer service representative said. AT&T has a similar program that allows calls for as little as $1.17 during off-peak times. Both programs cost $3 a month. The cheapest rate for a call from France to Moscow is approximately 53 cents a minute, according to a local representative of France Telecom. The standard rate from the Netherlands of about $1 is also cheaper at some times than calls from Moscow. Under the new Russian system there will only be two different rates for weekday calls, instead of the current three, and one for weekends. The peak period of 8 A.M. to noon on weekdays applies to all countries, despite different time zones. For the first time, businesses will pay the same rate as individuals, Slesareva said. Russia's international phone prices have risen steadily over the past two years in dollar terms. Because of the fluctuating value of the ruble the hard currency cost has never been stable, but a call to the United States two years ago was about 30 cents a minute and half that to Europe. At the time, higher business costs and government allocations subsidized the cheap prices, company officials say. Since prices have started rising sharply, service has improved, and it is now possible to dial many parts of the world directly around the clock -- although it can take hours to get through.