How to break down and analyse your telco bill

By Anthony Caruana | March 6, 2014

Do you ever look beyond the amount payable when you get your monthly phone bill? Let's find out how to break down and analyse yours.

Your phone bill is one of those invoices you receive each month that is often too complex to closely analyse. In some cases, it might be many pages long - if your business has a number of fixed and mobile numbers then a bill spanning over 100 pages is not unusual - and filled with so much detail that it may be hard to discern anything meaningful.

The main reason you want to check your telecommunications bill is to save money. By finding where you spend the most money you can target your cost-saving efforts on areas where they can have the greatest effect. For example, you might find that you're paying for services you no longer need such as extra lines, fax services or mobile data. However, the sheer volume of data in some bills might make it hard to identify those cost-saving opportunities. So what should you look for in a bill?

Reviewing your bill

Before starting, it's a good idea to set aside some time each year to review your telecommunications spending. Service providers regularly update their offerings so you can find better deals each year even without changing providers.

You should also set time aside each month to audit your bills and reconcile any issues you have. If your bills are long and complex, as you have many services, you can do a spot check of some of the services - just make sure you review a different set of services each month when you do these spot checks.

Your telecommunications bill will comprise of several components. The main ones to look out for are:

  • Services: These are fees that you pay regardless of how often you use a service.
  • Calls: What you pay for calls you make.
  • Data: Fees for data you use.
  • Extras: Things like directory listings.

You'll also want to know what charges you are meant to be paying and what services you are meant to receive. For example, does your mobile plan include allowances for calls and a set volume of data? Are special numbers such as 13 and 1800 services included?

Armed with this information, looking at each separate service on the bill and ask yourself whether you are paying excess usage charges for that service or paying for services you don't use. You should end up with three different categories for the items on your bill:

  • Services that are fit for purpose: You're paying for what you use.
  • Services that are costing extra: You overuse call, data or service allowances and are being hit with excess charges.
  • Services that are over-specified: You either don't use or under-use the service.

Taking action

With the services that are fit for purpose, your next step is to talk with your service provider about whether the same or similar arrangement exists with a lower fee. If you are paying excess usage charges on services regularly then it's time to look at upgrading those services. If the excess charges are only occasional then you might find you don't need to do anything special other than check out the most recent service offerings. However, if you're paying those fees every month, talk with your provider about a different service package.

Finally, services that aren't used should be cancelled. And those that are underused can be placed on lower-cost arrangements. One of the keys to doing this is to ensure that your business has regular contact with your account representative.

Optus Business Reports

Optus simplifies the process of reviewing your bills with their Optus Business Reports service. With OBR, you can review past bills, manage bills and look at usage trends so you can plan ahead and budget more effectively.

Action plan

So to make sure you keep on top of your telecommunications expenditure:

  1. Carry out monthly checks of bills as they come in.

  2. Carry out an annual audit to ensure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.

  3. Maintain regular communications with your business account representative.

  4. Avail yourself of useful tools like Optus Business Reports.

Telecommunications are an important part of your business. Checking your bills is not just financially prudent - it's also critical to ensure that your ongoing needs are being met.


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