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South Dakota Public Utilities Commission
For Immediate Release: March 21, 2003
Contact: Pam Bonrud (605) 773-3201


The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission offers suggestions to families of military personnel to assist them in communicating with their loved ones stationed away from home.

"Access to telecommunication services and the high cost of communications to/from the United States are common concerns of service members, their family and friends. We want to offer these suggestions to families and friends to help them stay in touch during this time," said Commission Chairman Bob Sahr.

"Being able to contact our military service family members and friends who are overseas will help to relieve the trauma of being separated during times of war," said Vice Chairman Gary Hanson.

The Federal Communication Commission is offering a guide to U.S. Military families entitled "CALLING HOME: What You Should Know: A Guide for the U.S. Military." They encourage families to:

  • Call carriers' Toll-Free numbers and request information regarding special calling plans for Defense personnel and their families.
  • Check out different carriers' Web sites. Look specifically for "military plans."
  • Read the fine print and investigate advertisements and solicitations before purchasing calling plans and calling cards.
  • As a general rule, it is easier for Defense personnel overseas to call back to the United States than for someone in the United States to contact the service member in a foreign country. Keep in mind that difference in time zones.
  • When making a call from a payphone, consider cost-saving options such as using a calling card, a prepaid card or a dial around.
  • Emergency communications are provided through the Red Cross. The Red Cross sends messages quickly. These communication services can be requested through local Red Cross chapters listed in phone directory.

The Public Utilities Commission is available to assist families of military personnel. If you have questions or wish to file a consumer complaint, please feel free to call the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission at 1-800-332-1782 or check its Web site at: