`Universal Service' Is No Longer So Simple New Technology Poses Policy Questions about Americans and Their Telephones

By Laurent Belsie, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, April 7, 1994 | Go to article overview

`Universal Service' Is No Longer So Simple New Technology Poses Policy Questions about Americans and Their Telephones


Laurent Belsie, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


FOR three generations, the United States supported a simple tenet of technology policy: Everyone ought to be able to afford a home telephone.

This policy, called "universal service," helped build the world's most dynamic telephone infrastructure and enjoys wide support today. But new technology and competition are posing awkward questions.

Does universal service still mean a low-cost home phone? Or is it something more? Should government ensure that all Americans can log onto the Internet (an information highway prototype)? Or is interactive television the new standard?

"We're entering a whole new world of multimedia," says Alex Mandl, executive vice president with AT&T. "Now, all of a sudden, what becomes universal service? It's probably more than just a touch-tone telephone."

At one end of the spectrum, technology optimists are pushing for a sweeping redefinition of the term.

"We decided it was important for the economy and the society that everybody should have access to a telephone," says Susan Hadden, a public policy professor at the University of Texas at Austin. The new model, she argues, should be interactive video communications to the home. This link would give all levels of society face-to-face contact with services ranging from health care to job training to long-distance learning.

The Clinton administration has talked of something similar. Its National Information Infrastructure would bring such interactive service to every public school and library. But Professor Hadden says she would go even further. "It's a lovely goal, but I hope it's not the final goal," she says. "Nobody is going to watch TV if they have to go to the library to watch. It has to come to the home to be effective."

Many policy analysts take a much more conservative approach.

"I'd prefer to see these decisions about what people want to consume made by the consumers themselves," says J. Gregory Sidak, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. "Instead of having an economy car, maybe we're mandating a Lear jet. That can be very wasteful."

Tied into this question of universal service is another problem: Who will pay for it? Old formulas do not work anymore.

Originally, the idea was a quid pro quo. The federal government gave AT&T a monopoly business; in return, AT&T would provide low-cost residential telephone service. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

`Universal Service' Is No Longer So Simple New Technology Poses Policy Questions about Americans and Their Telephones
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.