Access to information is essential for efficient business operation and social empowerment. Many Asia-Pacific businesses are exposed to international markets while their corresponding information requirements are not well met. Restricted information technology and telecommunications access also diminishes the ability of remote regions to generate reliable income streams. In the Asia-Pacific, several national governments have recently reviewed the notion of telecommunications universal service obligations (USOs). This review considers the adequacy of the ‘plain old telephone service’ definition for an information society characterised by market liberalisation, new technology, changing community needs, and an uncertain international environment. Several interim and proposed mechanisms for delivering USOs in the Asia–Pacific region are also discussed.