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Press Release
Governor Applauds Toll-Free Calling for Southern Oregon
September 30, 2004 (2004 - 027) (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 – Southern Oregon residents will ring in toll-free calling this weekend. The change approved by the Oregon Public Utility Commission means residents will be able to make unlimited calls throughout Jackson, Josephine and a portion of Douglas counties for a fixed monthly fee. Currently residents pay long distance rates for these calls.
The new region includes 150,762 access lines, 18 southern Oregon exchanges and involves four telephone companies: Qwest, Sprint, Citizens and Verizon. The scope of the region was recommended to the Commission by a task force of 14-southern Oregon residents chaired by Shayne Maxwell.
"This new service is a positive for everyone - business, government and individuals," said Governor Ted Kulongoski. "With expanded telephone service at a lesser-cost, businesses can expand their region of service, consumers have more options to choose from, and families in Southern Oregon can stay connected with their friends and loved-ones without the burden of long-distance phone bills ."
Most of the customers in this area will see their monthly bill increase by less than $1 to make unlimited calls within the region, plus, residents will only have to dial 7 digits for calls within the newly created region.
Customers will have the option of paying just for the time they use, which is known as a measured rate, or pay the fixed monthly Extended Area Service (EAS) rate for unlimited calling.
Commission Chairman Lee Beyer noted that the Southern Oregon legislative delegation was instrumental in moving the region’s creation forward. The Commission also relied heavily on input from the citizens task force. "I think special recognition should go to the region’s lawmakers such as former State Senator Lenn Hannon for his hard work, and of course Shayne Maxwell of Rogue River who never tired in rallying local citizens behind the idea."
During Open House and Town Hall events residents told the Commission this would save them money due to reduced long distance charges, that it would enhance business prospects, and that the proposal was long overdue.
For residents served by Qwest the increase will be 17 cents a month for unlimited calling except for Grants Pass where rates will go up 92 cents a month. Qwest serves Medford, Central Point, Ashland, Jacksonville, Phoenix/Talent, Gold Hill and Rogue River. Customers who will see the largest change are in outlying areas. These include Prospect, Shady Cove, Butte Falls and White City served by Sprint.
Customers will be allowed to change their EAS option for six-months following implementation of the region without paying a fee to make the change.
The telephone companies affected by the change neither make nor lose money from the switch over to a toll-free region, it merely changes the way they are paid for connecting calls.
Customers will want to reprogram their auto dialers, computers and check their home security system call-in numbers to remove the "1" for calls made in the new region to ensure they go through properly.
Southern Oregon Toll-Free Calling Region (PDF)
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