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News Release
 
Commission OKs Oakridge-Eugene/Springfield EAS
 
June 23, 1999 (1999-026)
 
Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Ron Karten, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, Ore. – Telephone customers in Oakridge will soon be able to call the Eugene/Springfield exchanges toll free. The new extended area service (EAS), approved this week by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC), follows the Oakridge community’s second petition to the Commission. Until February of this year, Commission rules did not allow this EAS.
 
EAS allows phone customers to call a nearby exchange or multiple exchanges without paying long-distance charges. Customers may select this as a flat-rate service and pay an added EAS charge each month in addition to their local exchange service charge, and receive unlimited calling to the extended area. Customers also may select measured EAS service, and pay for it on a per-call, per-minute basis.
 
This EAS route was made possible by a recent Commission decision that allows routes between non-contiguous exchanges outside of the Portland metropolitan area, a barrier that had prevented Oakridge and as many as 21 other rural exchanges across Oregon from receiving this service.
 
For the Oakridge community, the Lowell exchange came between Oakridge and Eugene/Springfield, and prevented an EAS designation, despite a documented community of interest between Oakridge and the Eugene-Springfield exchanges. Now, as a result of the Commission’s recent rule change, the EAS is possible, and to avoid customer confusion the Oakridge customers will also receive EAS to the intervening Lowell exchange.
 
The petition now proceeds to the cost study phase of the process in which the phone companies involved study customer calling volumes and patterns, and present the Commission with a detailed cost analysis along with a plan to distribute those costs equitably among customers in the different exchanges.
 
The process to implement EAS, which also includes public hearings, will take about one more year.
 
"Although the community needed this EAS yesterday, I am pleased to report the progress we have made on it," said Ron Eachus, Chairman of the Commission. "It is important for the community’s economic development efforts that they know the implementation process is moving forward, and can use it in describing the benefits of the area to individuals and businesses that may be considering locating in the area."
 
 
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