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The concept of “universal service obligation” (USO) has been around for decades; however, its definition continues to
change. The notion that the last mile of fixed line access should be subsidized has spread around the world, despite well
reasoned arguments and empirical evidence that the policy is and was a failure. It created artificial competition. Now the
concept is becoming bifurcated. Should wireless and/or broadband services be included in the definition of universal
This paper is in two parts: What should constitute USO definitions and how, if at all, it should be implemented. Many
consumers are “cutting-the-cord” and moving directly to alternative services. In this ubiquitous communications
environment the whole set of possible communications methods should be considered when defining “universal
connectivity.” Second, no one service or technology should be relied on to support subsidies.
The second part of the paper addresses the policy question: How should this connectivity be achieved?