Edited by Gerald R. Faulhaber, Gary Madden and Jeffrey Petchey
Chapter 5: Policy and Regulation for Next Generation Networks
Martin Cave INTRODUCTION For over 100 years fixed telecommunications networks have relied on copper to deliver calls to customers’ premises. This imposed a limit on capacity, which hardly bit in the days when voice calls were the only traffic. Now is a different world, where (predominantly) data traffic is mingled with voice. Increasingly the two are indistinguishable under IP transmission procedures. As a result, of this change, even the theoretical limits of copper will be breached by the requirements placed on it, particularly by peer-to-peer video transmissions. As a result, an historic shift is occurring in the telecommunications infrastructure, which extends the replacement of copper with fibre, long ago accomplished within the ‘core’ inter-exchange network, to the local loop, connecting customers to the network. What is needed is a next generation access network (NGA). It is needed to permit the development of high-speed (superfast) broadband. Current generation broadband has already transformed the communications possibilities of many households. High-speed broadband will accelerate this process. But the effects on production are quite as wide ranging. Broadband is a key general-purpose technology that can transform the operations of business. NGAs increase speeds by an order of magnitude and are easily capable of providing the symmetrical upstream and downstream services which businesses typically want and which current generation broadband is less suited to provide. Inevitably, what is happening is not as sudden and dramatic as the above account might suggest. First, many consumers already have access to cable networks, based on fibre/co-axial technologies which...
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