chapter  5
16 Pages

Rethinking Universal Service: What's on the Menu?

When the telephone was new, the very mention of its name could provoke laughter in children. Laura Elizabeth Richards' nonsense poem evokes the confusion of names that captivate children when they are first learning the intricacies of English. Yet as a metaphor, it also works on a level that provoked us on first reading it. Which way does the poem flow, from elephant to telephone or from elephone to telephant? Indeed, its very confusion is the essence of its charm. So too, confusion underscores the universal service debate. The basic goals and possibilities are unclear. Who should benefit? Why? Is universal service about the telephone?