Time to Take Action
Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.

Senator Doug Whitsett
R- Klamath Falls, District 28

Phone: 503-986-1728 900 Court St. NE, S-303, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: sen.dougwhitsett@state.or.us
Website: http://www.leg.state.or.us/whitsett
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E-Newsletter 9/30/11

Our monthly telephone bills include a variety of fees, surcharges and taxes. In fact, those add-on charges make up more than 20 percent of our personal monthly land-line telephone bill. One of those charges is particularly important to those of us who live in the more rural areas of Oregon.

The Universal Service Fund (USF) surcharge appears on both land-line and hand held mobile telephone bills regardless of location. The fee was established by Congress in 1996 and is collected from all telephone connections. The $8 billion in annual USF revenue collected is used to help build and maintain telecommunications infrastructure in America’s rural and underserved areas. Wireless phone customers contribute nearly half of that total amount.

More than 290 million Americans now have one or more hand held mobile telephone connections. Eleven different carriers provide mobile service to 3.3 million Oregonians. About 63 percent of Oregon families have access to rapid broadband wireless services. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all American households are currently served exclusively by mobile hand held telephone devices. The types of hand held telephones and their applications are expanding virtually every day. Our mobile telephones have become wireless telecommunication devices capable of instant communication through a variety of media.

Nearly 90 percent of American homes have the choice of at least five mobile telephone service providers. Most American families enjoy multiple accesses to cutting edge high speed broadband wireless. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many rural areas of the state and nation.

Telecommunication companies simply cannot afford to build expensive mobile service networks to serve sparsely populated areas. They know that there is no way that they can charge those potential customers enough to pay for the capital expenditure required to build the system. Congress recognized this reality and enacted the USF to help pay for that more rural infrastructure.

The USF appears to be patterned after the Rural Electrification Administration established by Congress in 1935. At that time, 90 percent of urban dwellers enjoyed electricity services but only 10% of those who lived in rural areas had access to electricity. Private utilities simply could not afford the capital expenditure required to provide that service. In fact, most of rural Oregon originally acquired access to electricity through rural electric cooperatives partially funded by the REA.

USF funds are widely used by telecommunications companies to help build and maintain high quality wireless networks in rural areas. These networks provide better communication, improved public safety, enhance business opportunity and boost economic development. Like the REA did for rural electrification, the USF is helping to keep rural families connected to information systems that are so critical to modern business success.

I was recently nominated by our Senate President to attend the Wireless University Communications Policy Seminar to be held this October in San Diego. I look forward to three days of intensive discussions on cutting edge telecommunications technology.

The rapid deployment of that technology can only help our rural economies.

Please remember, if we do not stand up for rural Oregon… no one will.

Best Regards,


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