Overview of Universal Service
Currently there are debates over the provision of telecommunications services in the United States. The debates involve a number of issues; however, one of the most important is the debate over universal service. Although technically undefined, universal service is generally interpreted to mean the widespread availability of telecommunications service to all Americans at affordable rates. The debates center around a number of questions:
What should the definition of universal service be? Are subsidies needed to keep universal service "affordable?" What is the appropriate level of subsidy? Who should pay for the subsidies? How do you insure that "basic local service" remains affordable in an environment of increasing competition?