In 1913 in its magazine Western Electric News, AT&T associated “universal service” with national political identity. Universal service meant one policy, one system. That system was AT&T, the Bell System.
By 1913, the U.S. had become a world leader in the prevalence of telephones. Small, non-AT&T telephone companies developed rural telephone service relatively rapidly. Universal service as a federal government communications policy priority developed long after AT&T’s push for universal (AT&T) service.