Monday, April 19, 2010

Universal Service Goes Mobile, By Lacy Muntean

On Thursday, April 15, I did my presentation on Universal Service. Universal Service is the idea of providing quality telecommunications services at just, reasonable and affordable rates for all consumers. The question of the week was, "What social and economic forces shape communication infrastructure?" I answered this question in my presentation by showing how Universal Service is being carried out what what the future plans are. Free cell phones are now being offered to low-income Americans. Our government is working to provide free high speed internet to this same group. As more and more telecommunications services become available to everyone, newer technologies will need to be created to satisfy consumers. People want the newest and coolest things, and when everyone has access to them, they lose their appeal. As things that were once considered luxuries become more readily available to everyone, no matter what social class, there will become a recurring need for new and more advanced technologies within telecommunications.

During my presentation I defined Universal Service, stated its goals, and gave two examples of telephone providers that are providing free cell phones to low-income Americans. These two examples showed the difference between the first provider of free cell phones and the most recent provider to offer the same service. Safelink provided only 60 (or more depending on the state) minutes to low-income Americans, but Assurance Wireless has increased the number of minutes to 200. As the realization that a cell phone is a necessity increases, providers work harder to provide low-income Americans with more services related to their cell phones.

The discussion question I posed to the class was "Do you feel that a cell phone is a luxury or a necessity, and should they be provided to low-income Americans?" A majority of the class felt that cell phones have really become a necessity. They are needed in case of an emergency, if someone loses a job and for many other reasons. One student stated that if someone already has the tools needed, such as a cell phone, the service should be provided for free. He felt that a cell phone is not a necessity. Another example he gave was if you already have a computer, internet should be provided, but if you don't have the means to purchase a computer, the services should not be provided.

To learn more about Universal Service, go to:

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