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Press Release
Commission says YES to Southern Oregon Toll-Free Calling Region
June 25, 2004 (2004 - 019) (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 – It’s official. This fall Jackson and Josephine county residents will soon be able to reach out and touch each other without paying long distance telephone charges.
 
At the urging of Southern Oregon residents, the Oregon Public Utility Commission has decided to create a toll-free calling region (Extended Area Service) that includes 18 exchanges served by four telephone companies, Qwest, Verizon, Sprint (United) and Citizens.
 
It means residents will be able to make unlimited calls within the region for a flat monthly fee. Currently residents are paying long distance rates for calls within the region that are not part of their existing EAS routes.
 
About 94 percent of the customers in the new region will see an increase of less than $1 to make unlimited calls within the region. All customers in the region will have the option of choosing a measured rate if they wish to avoid the fixed Extended Area Service (EAS) rate.
 
"We’re extremely pleased we can deliver this," Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. "This effort took a lot of hard work and I applaud the efforts of countless citizens and Southern Oregon lawmakers who worked with the Commission to bring this about."
 
The change will take effect no later than October 2, 2004.
 
"We understand this could be a financial hardship on some residents, especially those on fixed incomes, that’s why customers will have a choice between a flat rate for unlimited calls within the region or pay a per-minute charge," Beyer added. "We think the majority of residents in the new region will agree this is a pretty good deal."
 
Residents will only have to dial 7 digits for calls within the region.
The boundaries were recommended to the Commission by a 14-member citizens task force.
 
The Commission reached its decision following an extensive outreach effort that included seven open house events throughout the proposed region. Customers in high-cost areas were also polled.
 
The companies affected by the change neither make nor lose money from the switch over to a toll-free region, it merely changes the way telephone companies are paid for connecting calls.
 
Prior to the switch over the phone companies will provide their customers with information for choosing the best billing option.
 
Southern Oregon becomes the second toll-free region in the state. The other toll-free region takes in the greater Portland area.
 
Southern Oregon Toll-Free Calling Region
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