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News Release
Southern Oregon Toll-Free Calling Region Boundaries Finalized by Commission
April 19, 2004 (2004 - 012) (UM 1061)
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 – The Oregon Public Utility Commission has signed an order establishing the boundaries for a toll-free Southern Oregon calling region as recommended by the Southern Oregon Citizens Task Force.
The Commission appointed 14 local citizens to the Task Force in Oct. 2002 to provide local input to help ensure the boundaries best fit the needs of Southern Oregon residents.
The Task Force members were recommended by the southern Oregon Legislative delegation.
The region will include 18 exchanges that encompass Grants Pass, Medford, Ashland and outlying areas in Jackson and Josephine counties.
"I am very pleased we are moving forward and are able to give southern Oregon residents something they clearly wanted," Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. "It took a lot of hard work by the citizens task force, the southern Oregon legislative delegation and the Commission to bring about this change."
Customers will be able to start making toll-free calls within the region by no later than Oct. 2 of this year. The Commission will finalize rates in May.
Most exchanges will see relatively minor increases under the proposed rates. More than 94% of the customers in the proposed region would see increases of less than $1.00 for regional EAS access. The customers that would see the largest increase are in the outlying areas, where customers have told the Commission they have been paying expensive long distance charges to make calls within the region.
The Commission reached its decision following extensive public outreach throughout the region. These included 7 Open Houses to inform customers of the proposed rates, and to solicit comments regarding the designated region. Customers in high-cost exchanges were polled.
New rates will vary between the four telephone companies that serve the region: Qwest, Verizon, Sprint United and Citizens.
The Commission is working to ensure the rates proposed by the four affected telephone companies will be fair to consumers and revenue neutral to the companies, meaning companies will be able to recover costs of implementing the region, but not profit from it.
Customers will have the option of either a flat EAS rate or measured rate, which is billed on a per minute basis. This fall telephone companies will notify their customers of their options and advise them which would be the better deal.