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News Release
Roseburg Special Public Meeting
To Look At Telephone Infrastructure Issues

April 5, 1999 (1999-015)
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. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) will hold a Special Public Meeting in Roseburg to hear from the community about telecommunications infrastructure and service quality problems. Commissioners will convene the hearing at Roseburg City Council chambers on Thursday evening, April 8th at 7:00 PM.
In addition to Commission comment on the recent history of U S WEST Communications, Inc., service quality problems in the area, the meeting will include comments by Roseburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ron Watson, and President Neil Hummel; Tony Haber, Director of General Services for Mercy Medical Center; Dave Simms of Rosenet; Jim Kindred and Nancy Radcliffe of Roseburg Forest Products; and Dotty Randall of Telecommunications Management Services. Elected officials representing the area also have been invited to attend and speak.
The Special Public Meeting comes in response to complaints about the company’s service quality in the area, including potentially life-threatening problems reported by Mercy Medical Center and the Sutherlin Police Department.
Early this month, the Commission ordered U S WEST to "immediately take whatever actions are necessary" to ensure that the hospital receive the voice and data phone service it needs. The Commission also required the company to complete alterations to its Roseburg central office switch to provide adequate capacity by March 12. The company was ordered to increase, by March 20, the number of circuits between Roseburg, Sutherlin and Winston in order to provide the level of service required in Commission rules.
At the same time, the Commission opened an investigation into why the company has not fulfilled its promise to replace 13 outdated analog switches – one in Roseburg and the rest around the state. The company promised to replace the switches between 1996 and 2000, and was given $14 million in depreciation in anticipation of the replacement, but to date, only two switches have been replaced, and the company has not announced plans to replace any of the others.
Timely replacement of the Roseburg switch would have prevented the serious problems that the community experienced in recent months.
Also this month, the Commission opened an investigation into the company’s 1998 and 1999 Construction budgets after determining that other uncompleted projects in the 1998 budget also would have prevented the problems cited in the Roseburg area and elsewhere in the state.
Late last week, the Commission’s senior Telecommunications engineer investigated the company’s central offices in the area to ensure that the work had been completed. He found that substantial improvements have been made, but also that a lack of circuits continues to be a problem between the switches in Oakridge and Eugene, between Sutherlin and Roseburg, and between Florence and both Corvallis and Eugene.
This is one of four telecommunications infrastructure meetings the Commission has scheduled. The Commission was in La Grande on March 18, in Oakridge on March 31, and will be in Newport on April 29.
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