The concept of universal service needs to evolve with the changing digital environment. Current policies and practices are already outdated when viewed in the light of technological developments and the dynamic broadband markets around the world. During 2009–10, Finland, New Zealand, and the US have proposed to reform their universal service obligations (USOs) and/or universal service fund (USF) systems, at the same time as announcing national digital strategies. The European Commission (EC) also proposed reform of the concept of universal service in its March 2010 consultation paper on reviewing the Universal Service Directive (USD).
This report presents some of the national digital strategies announced around the world and explores the evolution of existing universal service systems. It also identifies various barriers to the reform of universal service, and the associated costs and methods to fund it.
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Table Of Contents :
In a nutshell
An introduction to universal service
What it is and why it is important?
The EC is to amend the USD
National digital strategies and universal service reform
Digital strategies and universal service reform should be viewed as separate issues
Regulators need to reform universal service now
Radical changes to universal service policies are needed
Priorities for universal service are changing
Benefits of changes: universal broadband in the digital era
The impact of NGA deployment: two stages of universal broadband applied
Challenges for universal service funding reform
Change is required in the financing of universal service
Three complicating factors
The USF is a separate issue to the government’s funding of national digital strategies
Country case studies
List of Tables
Table 1: Comparison of national digital strategies and investments by government funds
Table 2: The two stages applied in Finland and Germany
Table 3: Current universal service funding scenarios
List of Figures
Figure 1: Changing priorities for universal service
Figure 2: Roadmap of universal service fund reform in the US
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