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News Release
 
Community Of Interest Found For Northeastern Oregon EAS, Hurdles Remain
 
June 1, 2000 (2000-026)
 
Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR - The Oregon Public Utility Commission has determined a community of interest exists between Oregon Slope, Nyssa, Vale and Ontario telephone exchanges and eight telephone exchanges in southwestern Idaho and approved applications for Extended Area Service (EAS).
 
EAS will permit callers in the affected exchanges to call each other without incurring long distance charges. EAS is not a cost-free service, however. Per-minute toll charges are replaced with a flat or measured EAS rate. Customers could choose whichever option best fits their needs.
 
However, final approval does not rest with the Oregon Public Utility Commission. Because these petitions affect numerous exchanges located in southwestern Idaho, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission must also authorize creation of the interstate routes.
 
According to the order, interdependence between the Oregon/Idaho exchanges was the most relevant and convincing factor in approving the EAS.
 
"As far as key services go, these exchanges are pretty self-sufficient and under normal circumstances probably wouldn't meet the criteria for EAS, but this is a unique situation," Commission Chairman Ron Eachus said. "This area is in a different time zone and is clearly tied to the Boise area as the economic center of Treasure Valley."
 
The Oregon Commission will not move to the next step, which will include examining costs and rates of providing (EAS) between these areas, until the Idaho Commission gives its preliminary approval to the EAS request. Additional hearings would be held to determine whether the customers of the petitioning exchanges still support the proposed EAS at the projected rates.
 
The Commission directed its staff to contact the Idaho Public Utilities Commission to initiate proceedings.
 
Petitioners in Oregon Slope, Vale, Nyssa and Ontario filed their requests last year. They failed to meet the initial criteria, based on calling patterns, but a subsequent investigation determined a community of interest exists.
 
A community of interest determination takes into consideration a number of factors including geography, employment, governmental issues, emergency services and other factors deemed relevant by the Commission.
 
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