Universal service funds un/misspent? No problem, we’ll find something for bureaucrats to spend it on

Posted on November 17, 2009  /  1 Comments

I am writing this sitting at an IGF session dealing with the twin themes of access and diversity. Learning new and useful things about making websites accessible to differently abled people which should have important implications for the design of mobile terminals that will make more-than-voice services more accessible to those lacking knowledge capital.

The danger of course is the money question. When the many well meaning people who work on disabled access issues look around for money to advance their causes, they first look to government. And where in government? Universal service funds. Tax the poor mobile users to develop websites and audio-visual channels that will be more accessible. Wrong, even if this will actually happen. But we all know from the real experience of a decade or more of the mismanagement of universal service funds throughout the world that even what the proponents want will not happen. The bads (tax collection) will happen; the goods will not.

We have the evidence. We have communicated the evidence. Our research has been presented to the US Congress and to the Indian Department of Telecommunication (world’s 1st and 2nd largest Universal Service funds). No need to repeat mistakes.

1 Comment

  1. Funny, I’m sitting in Brazilia and reading this, and thinking how the cycle just repeats itself. The Brazilian USF is also sitting there, and now they are about to embark on a National Broadband Network (a la Australia, but with some differences, as the meetings yesterday and today with the govt. revealed). But the claim here is the USF is more “accessible” than its in India. We live in hope, it seems. We also never learn, it also seems.