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The Telecommunications Act of 1996 specified that telephone services should have "just and reasonable rates accomplished through allocation of a reasonable share of common costs." The idea was to ensure that special at-risk groups were ensured continuous service. Three programs are available, including Lifeline, Link-Up America, and the Universal Service Fund program. USF is of the most interest here. It funds LECs in rural areas and subsidizes a small fraction of the telecommunications-related costs associated with connecting schools, libraries, and nonprofit rural health care providers to the Internet.
As telephone service moves to the Internet where it is potentially unregulated, there is a question about where the funds for universal service will come from.
Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.