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Universal service issues in converging communications environments: the case of the UK

Simpson, Seamus (2004) Universal service issues in converging communications environments: the case of the UK. ISSN 0308-5961

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Abstract

Convergent trends in telecommunications and broadcasting technologies and markets have called forth a re-examination of universal service provision in the communications sector and present an opportunity to update and re-formulate its provision. In the UK, proposed changes announced in the 2000 UK Communications White Paper and subsequent 2003 Communications Act, whilst still emphasising the importance of guaranteeing universal access to stipulated key public services and content across communications, suggest a closer relationship between economic and content regulation will be developed. This paper argues that whilst it is important to consider issues of economic efficiency in the communications sector, this should neither obscure nor compromise the need to create progressive, socially responsible, universal service reflective of the requirements of 21st century users. Crucial to the delivery of such a system in the UK is an actively supportive government policy backdrop and the development of the new convergent regulator the Office of Communications as an effective regulatory force.

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