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The Myths and Realities of Universal Service:
Revisiting the Justification for the Current Subsidies

A PFF Congressional Seminar
Friday, December 3, 2004, 12 - 2 pm
Rayburn House Office Building Room B-369
Washington, DC

Transcript Available Here


  • Moderator: Randolph May, Senior Fellow and Director of Communications Policy Studies, The Progress & Freedom Foundation
  • Joseph Kraemer, Adjunct Fellow, The Progress & Freedom Foundation
  • Howard Waltzman, Senior Majority Counsel, House Commerce Committee
  • Robert Crandall, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
  • Jerry Ellig, Senior Resident Fellow, George Mason University Mercatus Center

Subsidies designed to ensure the availability of telephone service for rural and low-income households, known as universal service, have existed for decades. But a lot has changed in those years, including the end of monopoly phone service, the spread of low-cost, high-speed Internet connections, and the rapid adoption of alternatives such as wireless. On December 3, three scholars in the field offered Capitol Hill a preview of a new comprehensive study of universal service. The study examines the extent to which various communications services offered by companies other than traditional wireline phone companies are used by various population segments, including lower-income persons and those living in rural areas.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation Congressional Seminar, "The Myths and Realities of Universal Service: Revisiting the Justification for the Current Subsidies," featured experts offering their feedback on the study’s findings. The Myths and Realities of Universal Service" is authored by Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow Randolph May, director of Communications Policy Studies, and two Foundation adjunct fellows, Joseph Kraemer and Richard Levine. The discussion, and the paper's subsequent release, came just weeks before the commencement of the 109th Congress, in which universal service reform is expected to be part of the discussion of a potential rewrite of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation