Federal Communications Law Journal


Milton Mueller

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

49 Federal Communications Law Journal 655 (1997)


Like many other countries, the United States is in the midst of redefining its universal service policy. Access to telecommunications no longer depends on connecting a copper wire line into the home. Rather, universal service depends on how people will access and use the infrastructure around them. The ability to access communications facilities requires an account relationship between the supplier and the user. Therefore, the account relationship, not the presence of a physical connection to the home, should be the focal point of a universal service policy. With the rise of electronic commerce, access hinges on account verification, credit authorizations, billings, and collection. Metaphorically, the symbol for the third generation of universal service is not the wire, but the card, be it the credit card, the debit card, or the SIM card.