What Does Universal Service Mean to Me?



This is the first in a series of posts about Universal Service and the Universal Service Fund. Universal Service is a phrase more frequently in the news these days as cell phones and broadband Internet change the traditional face of communications in the United States.

Starting at the Beginning

Beginning in 1934, the nation made a policy commitment to ensure that telephone service would be available to as many Americans as possible – rich or poor, rural or urban. When Congress passed the original Communications Act, it established the concept of universal service as a principle to promote the development and reach of the national telephone network by distributing costs across various services and users in order to connect all segments of the American public. Universal service recognizes the economic reality that the cost of providing telephone service in rural areas is significantly higher than in well-populated, urban parts of the country, but that the nation as a whole benefits from a network that connects as many Americans as possible. Universal service can be regarded as a system by which everyone benefits because everyone else has a telephone. Thanks to universal service, community based telecom providers in high-cost rural areas have been assured of appropriate recognition of our business costs, and all Americans have been assured of quality telephone service at reasonable rates, no matter where they live.

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