The Universal Service Obligation (USO), which guarantees every premises access to a voice service, is outdated. Ensuring that the obligation is updated and that data and voice services are available to all is a key area of work for ACCAN.

Following our event in February, Rethinking the USO, and the findings of the Regional Telecommunications Review 2015, there was a need for further examination of options for the USO that delivers better for consumers. As such, ACCAN contracted John de Ridder, telecommunication economist, to prepare an Occasional Paper for ACCAN on the future of the USO to feed into our work and provide new perspectives.

It is hoped that this report will add to the debate on the changes required in the USO. In particular it highlights the size of the affordability barrier that needs to be addressed, with the paper estimating that up to one million households are in need of support accessing communication services. The paper examines six options to see if they can deliver more for consumers in terms of availability, accessibility and affordability of telecommunication services and the availability of content and applications.

As an Occasional Paper, the views reflected are those of the author.

ACCAN will shortly be releasing a white paper setting out the key consumer issues that need to be addressed in the design of a future on the USO.

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