The details of the funding policy statement for the broadband stimulus package may shed some light on future trends in access and offer some hope that regulators may understand advanced services issues. The document notes that for many services, the performance perceived by the user is more related to the “middle-mile” or aggregation infrastructure than to access speed per se. It also acknowledges that there will be applications that require performance levels that cannot be provided within the context of the public Internet, where customers are necessarily oversubscribing the network to make costs rational.
As a result, the document indicates awareness that there may be applications that will share the high-speed access network but not be the Internet. These alternative uses would not be subject to net neutrality principles, at least as the policy-makers currently see it. This position, taken two years ago or even a year ago, might have encouraged more wireline telco investment, but it may now be too late for that to happen.