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                                                              Claudia de Francisco
                                                 Minister of Communications of Colombia

                                                                and Chair of PCCI

                                               The Permanent Consultative Committee of the Inter-American
                                      Commission of Telecommunications is highly pleased to present to the
                                      member countries of the Organization of American States this first edition
                                      of the book Universal Service in the Americas. This book focuses on, and
                                      analyzes, the strategies and programs developed by the member countries
                                      to ensure universal coverage of telecommunication services among all
                                      population groups of the continent.

         Under the leadership of the Secretary General of the OAS, Dr. César Gaviria Trujillo, we wanted
to prepare this manual especially as a reference for the year 2000 Telecom Summit of Rio de Janeiro. All
the social policies and concrete plans developed by the nations of the Americas for the purpose of
effectively expanding telecommunications service coverage, giving priority to delivery of this public
service to isolated regions and to the most vulnerable population groups, have been compiled herein.

         With the liberalization of international markets and the global promotion of competition,
regulatory and planning authorities must accept the fundamental responsibility of guaranteeing to all
inhabitants of the Americas access to the benefits provided by the infrastructure of the information and
knowledge society.

         The present book is tangible testimony of the different efforts made by governments to achieve
short- and medium-term results in focusing on and guaranteeing the essential human right of
communication. This will undoubtedly become a reference manual that will contribute to enrich and
complement the strategies that are being applied in each one of our countries.

         As Chair of the PCC.I it gives me great pleasure to contribute to the continent’s reflection on the
telecommunications sector with this document on plans that have already been laid out and programs that
are being implemented. To the authorities and administrations it will serve us as a guide to take up the
complex challenges yet to come in the 21st century.

         This report has conducted thanks to the work and dedication of member countries participating in
PCC.I’s research, led in this specific case by the Administration of Argentina with the support of ITU and
AHCIET. We would like to extend to them our gratitude and special appreciation.

                                                                      Claudia de Francisco
                                                          Minister of Communications of Colombia

                                                                       and Chair of PCCI

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