By Philippa Lawson
While Canada prides itself on a 98% household penetration rate of telephone service, closer examination reveals a persistent problem of phonelessness among lower income households. This problem needs to be addressed if Canada is to achieve its goal of universal service. Bill management tools and other market initiatives (such as prepaid local service) while helpful to some users, have failed to close the gap. Other approaches deserve examination. In the USA, under the Lifeline and Link-Up assistance programs, low income households are offered basic phone service at discount rates. Studies indicate that these programs are successful in increasing subscribership among the low income population. Canada should consider implementing a similar program.The second edition of this report includes updated statistics and more analysis of the issue.
Hard copy, including Appendix B, 140 pp. price: $20
(Soft copy is 37 pages, without Appendix B)
March 2002