chapter  15
14 Pages

Breaking the Bottleneck and Sharing the Wealth: A Perspective on Universal Service Policy in an Era of Local Competition

One of the most debated and least understood concepts in all of telecommunications policy is that of universal service. Over the past century universal service has been a dynamic concept, changing significantly depending on the environment. Contrary to popular belief, it was originally implemented in 1907 as a business strategy by AT&T's Theodore Vail, to promote connection to AT&T's network. In its modem incarnation, the ability to make and receive calls on the Public-Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) is viewed-if not as a basic human right, then-at least as a necessity for full participation in modem society (Mueller, 1993).