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Saturday, September 26 • 3:05pm - 3:37pm
Gigabit Broadband, Interconnection Propostions, and the Challenge of Managing Expectations

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How should market and regulatory expectations evolve as broadband access speeds increase toward Gigabit speeds? One might note that the FCC in the United States only just increased the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps in 2015 and the average connection speed is only approximately 25 Mbps. An inquiry premised on a future with much faster broadband access speeds thus might seem 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 where both large providers (e.g. Comcast, Verizon, Google Fiber) and small broadband ISPs (e.g. rural and community owned networks) have connectivity offerings ranging from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps of access speed. We ask, what expectations should exist regarding how a broadband access provider offering such high-speeds is interconnected with other networks? How should the current norms and expectations that have developed regarding access network performance extend across the interconnection links of such a very high-speed broadband provider? Do the expectations of performance on the access links themselves change with such high-speed offerings? Do existing measurement tools and systems provide consumers and regulators with a clear understanding of how well such high-speed broadband access networks are functioning and interconnected? Are there dimensions of interconnection beyond capacity that are relevant to the customer experience and regulatory discussions?

There are two dimensions to the changes we explore here: a significant increase in the speed of access networks and a change in scope of performance expectations to include interconnection links and paths all the way to the applications and services that users are trying to access. The performance of the end-to-end path is a function of both infrequent long-term decisions (interconnection decisions, capacity decisions, etc.) and short-term decisions (BGP changes, CDN source selection, etc.) made by both the broadband access providers and by the other network actors delivering content and services to users. This underappreciated joint influence over the user experience is important to consider in setting market and regulatory norms and policy.


Paul de Sa

Bernstein Research


Steven Bauer


Saturday September 26, 2015 3:05pm - 3:37pm
GMUSL - Room 225

Attendees (26)