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News Release
Oregon Telecommunication Competitive Market Improving
 
January 29, 2004 (2004 - 001)
 
Contacts: Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR - At the end of 2002, Oregon´s four largest incumbents – Qwest, Verizon, Century Tel, and Sprint – served nearly 83 percent of the state´s wireline phones while 30 smaller incumbents served six percent of lines. However, competitors are making inroads into the market, according to an Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) report. The results are based on a survey of 244 local exchange carriers in the state.
 
Competitive carriers’ share of the total went from 8.8 percent at the end of 2001 to 11.3 percent at the end of 2002. Competitive carriers served about three percent of the residential market and 26.3 percent of the business market. Most of the competitive carriers´ customers are in the Portland Metropolitan area.
 
"While I am encouraged by these latest survey results we still have a long way to go to provide Oregon consumers with competitive options," Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. "Technological changes are happening rapidly. These changes are driving down costs and increasing options for many consumers, especially business consumers."
 
The number of competitive carriers operating in Oregon has increased. At the end of 2002, 101 competitive local exchange carriers operated in Oregon, 26 more than in 2001. Forty-eight (48) of those companies offered switched (dial tone) service.
 
Competitors provided local services in all parts of the state. But in the Portland metropolitan region, 31.5 percent of the business lines were served by competitors; 22.5 percent in the central region including Bend, in the Willamette Valley 25.5 percent, in the southwest interior 16.9 percent, 9.2 percent in the eastern part of the state, and on the coast, 8.6 percent.
 
In the survey competitive carriers cited price, lack of facilities, and incumbents name familiarity as the greatest barriers to their gaining bigger market share.
 
The report highlighted other major events over the past year affecting competition in Oregon.
  • Competitive carriers have started offering telecommunication services over cable TV facilities in the Portland metropolitan area. The service requires substantial investment in two-way transmission technology to replace the original one-way transmission design for TV.

  • On November 24, 2003 the Federal Communications Commission began allowing customers that stay at the same location, to keep their telephone numbers when they change from one local wireline service provider to another, or from one wireless provider to another. In early 2004, such local number portability will be available for customers switching from wireline to wireless.

  • The 2003 Oregon Legislature passed a bill allowing the Commission to begin enforcing consumer complaints about slamming. Slamming occurs when a consumer discovers that his or her telecom service provider has changed without his or her consent. The Commission had sought legislative approval to assist consumer with both "slamming" of long-distance bills and "cramming" charges on their local bills. Cramming occurs when a customer is billed for unexpected or unauthorized charges or services.

  • New technologies such as Voice over the Internet will lead to major changes in the industry. In some cases, the internet is being used directly to carry voice traffic traditionally carried over the telecommunications network, known as the public switched network. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering whether traditional regulatory methods should be applied to VOIP.
 
View The Report  (650 KB)