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Universal access to online services: An examination of the issue

By Benjamin M Compaine and Mitchell J Weinraub


Universal service for telephone service is a widely held social and economic objective in industrialized societies. In the so-called 'Information age', some social commentators and policymakers have suggested that Information access must be universal to eliminate perceived information gaps. But while Western societies have historically made communication processes universal (mail service, telephone), they have not done the same for information (subsidized newspapers and books in libraries and schools, but not to each household). The distinction between communication and information may continue to serve as a model for the concept of what should be the focus of universal access policy.

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