The federal universal service scheme is designed to ensure that everyone has affordable access to advanced telecommunications and information services. Despite the development of cost-effective technologies that drastically reduce the cost of telephone services vis-à-vis the Internet and Wi-Fi networks, federal regulations generally prevent municipalities or private companies from providing wireless Internet access with universal service funds. Federal regulations have replaced technology costs, lack of business incentives, and consumer affordability as the primary barrier to universal service. Competitive neutrality, the pro-competitive and technology-neutral approach to universal service funding, must be fully embraced in order to empower local communities with the choice of technologies that best suits their residents in providing universal and affordable access to advanced telecommunications and information services.
K. Joon Oh, Completing the Connection: Achieving Universal Service Through Municipal Wi-Fi, 4 Duke Law & Technology Review 1-27 (2006)