cr> The future of universal service discussed by FCC


I am posting this as an individual, not as moderator.

We have been indulging in some highly idealistic discussions of
Internet sovereignty and democratic pricing schemes on this list, but
I'd like to put out a request that we all spend more time responding
to contemporary, urgent decisions that are being made right now and
which could affect development of the Internet for the next several

The U.S. Telecom Bill has been passed, and despite the disappointment
of the public-interest community about loopholes permitting
monopolistic and price-gouging practices, it contains a lot of good
language about universal service and a level ground for competition.
I always said that Congress got it about 70% right.  Now, as has been
pointed out by Coralee Whitcomb (editor of Telecompost and advocate
for more public access to networks) the battle now moves to the
Federal Communications Commission and the states, which have to
implement many provisions of the bill.

The FCC is moving very fast.  In particular, it has released a notice
about how it will address universal service--the need to serve rural
and low-income areas, provide Internet access to schools and health
providers, ensure a fund for implementing universal service, as other
issues that have a long-term impact on how ordinary people will be
able to use the information infrastructure--and has asked for comments
by April 8.  This is kind of crazy, and some public interest groups
have asked for the deadline to be extended.  Furthermore, Craig
Johnson told me that this round of comments is only a first stage.
The FCC notice just establishes a board to deal with implementing
universial service; more chances to intervene will arise when the
board actually is formed and starts to meet.

Still, it would behoove any member of this list who wants to keep up
to date with the development of the NII to read the FCC notice and
consider what we could do to present a public-interest viewpoint.  I
am working on some comments and will post them when I feel they are
ready.  Meanwhile please check out the notice at:

or ask me to email you a copy.  Yes, it's long, but it's quite
readable. If I could make sense of it, you can too.


 Posted by Andrew Oram  - •••@••.••• - Moderator: CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)
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