chapter  13
24 Pages

Universal Service and the National Information Infrastructure (NII): Making the Grade on the Information Superhighway

Policymakers in this country have long embraced universal service as a broad and purposeful goal. Throughout this century, the number and proportion of U.S. households with telephones have increased steadily as "plain old telephone service" (POTS) has come within the economic reach of most Americans (see AT&T, 1982; Belinfante, 1998; FCC, 1997; Lande, 1993). Developed within the structure of franchised local exchange monopolies, the policy flourished through the workings of a system that featured wide-ranging subsidies and noncost-based telephone rates (see, e.g., Weinhaus et ai., 1992). For much of this century, this arrangement has stood as the legacy of the Bell System's Theodore Vail and the Communications Act of 1934 (see, e.g., Bolter et ai., 1990).