Gigabit Broadband, Interconnection, Propositions and the Challenge of Managing Expectations
34 Pages Posted: 31 Mar 2015 Last revised: 30 Sep 2016
Date Written: September 1, 2015
How should market and regulatory expectations evolve as broadband access speeds increase toward Gigabit speeds? Because the FCC only increased its benchmark speed for broadband from 4Mbps to 25Mbps in January 2015 and average access speeds are below 20Mbps for most subscribers in the United States, some might think such an inquiry premature. We disagree. Evolving consumer preferences shape the broadband offerings while the regulatory sphere is codifying acceptable behavior of network operators. These consumer expectations and regulatory decisions have the potential to either facilitate or hinder the deployment of an Internet with very high-speed connectivity.
This paper explores both technical and policy questions premised on a future in which a significant share of broadband subscribers in all types of markets have access to and are increasingly likely to subscribe to connectivity offerings with access speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. This transition will pose significant challenges for balancing expectations about access and end-to-end performance; for expectations about appropriate provisioning for interconnection capacity and other complementary Internet infrastructure and services; for pricing and recovery of shared costs; for performance measurement; and for regulatory policies. Current expectations will need to be more nuanced and allow for more limited expectations regarding the relationship between peak and average data rates and the consistency of performance over time, applications, and Internet destinations. More nuanced expectations will require further enhancements to performance measurement tools.
Keywords: broadband, gigabit, measurement, user experience
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation