Universal service

From Academic Kids

Telecoms

In telecommunications, universal service was conceived by Theodore Vail, at AT&T, in the late 1800s; any user could connect. This concept has been extended to users on the Internet.

Universal service is an evolving level of telecommunications services that :

  • (A) are essential to education, public health, or public safety;
  • (B) have, through the operation of market choices by customers, been subscribed to by a substantial majority of residential customers;
  • (C) are being deployed in public telecommunications networks by telecommunications carriers; and
  • (D) are consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

The Universal Service Principles are:

  • (1) Quality and rates.--Quality services should be available at just, reasonable, and affordable rates.
  • (2) Access to advanced services.--Access to advanced telecommunications, broadband and information services (Internet) should be provided in all regions of the territory.
  • (3) Access in rural and high cost areas.--Consumers in all regions of the territory, including low-income consumers and those in rural, insular, and high cost areas, should have access to telecommunications and information services, including interexchange services, broadband and advanced telecommunications and information services, that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and that are available at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas.
  • (4) Equitable and nondiscriminatory contributions.--All providers of telecommunications services should make an equitable and nondiscriminatory contribution to the preservation and advancement of universal service.
  • (5) Specific and predictable support mechanisms.--There should be specific, predictable and sufficient public mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service.
  • (6) Access to advanced telecommunications services for schools, healthcare and libraries.--Elementary and secondary schools and classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should have access to advanced telecommunications services.
  • (7) Additional principles.--Such other principles as the Joint Board and the Commission determine are necessary and appropriate for the protection of the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

In the United States, universal telecom service is implemented by the Universal Service Administrative Company (http://www.universalservice.org/default.asp). A small amount is charged to most telephone bills to support the FCC's universal service programs.

See also: flat rate.

Another public utilities

This concept, arising from competition for rights to an electrical distribution system, became regulated as a public utility, in exchange for monopoly control of telephony.

Human rights

With the industrialization of the US, the concept of universal service has even been extended to human rights, in the sense of an entitlement, in some views.

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