The Rationale for Universal Access to Digital Services

Main Article Content

Mark A Gregory http://orcid.org/0000-0003-4631-6468

Keywords

Telecommunications, Universal Service, Universal Access, Public Policy,

Abstract

The regulated telecommunication markets found in many countries often include the social principle that telecommunications infrastructure should be reasonably available to all at fair and affordable rates. In Australia, this concept of universal service aims to ensure that all people, wherever they reside or carry on business, should have reasonable access, on an equitable basis, to standard telephone services and payphones. The hallmark of the universal service regime has been the reasonable availability of public payphones and the subsidised installation of telecommunications infrastructure at premises nationwide to provide standard telephone services. With the advent and ongoing evolution of broadband technologies a new need has arisen and that is for everyone to have reasonable access, on an equitable basis, to specified digital services, including egovernment services. This paper presents a position and identifies future research necessary to support the transition from the universal service regime to a universal access regime that enshrines the principle of ensuring that federal, state and local egovernment and other specified digital services are reasonably accessible to all, on an equitable basis, wherever they work or live.
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