Some Legal Puzzles in the 1996 Statutory Provisions for Universal Telecommunications Services
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Pub.L. No. 104-104, The Act) made great strides in stating universal service principles and providing for the development of associated support mechanisms by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The previous statutory hooks for universal service policies and practices, found in the Communications Act of 1934, were limited to the broad goal of "nation-wide" availability of communications service (Section 151), and to a far lesser extent the provisions requiring no unreasonable discrimination against any class of persons or locality (Section 202) and "just and reasonable" charges (Section 205). Now, in Section 254 of the Act there are pages of statutory universal service policies, standards, and procedures.