This Working Paper considers whether integrated broadband networks — and the new or improved services they might support — will be available not only to large businesses but also to small businesses and residential customers. A central assumption of this paper is that the public interest will be served if such broadband networks become as widely available as demand requires and costs of providing service permits. The paper argues that service providers should be able to select among technological options for meeting their customers' needs and regulators should not be in the position of picking winners and losers.
The paper also identifies potential regulatory and institutional constraints on broadband network development by local telephone exchange carriers, and he discusses regulatory policy questions that must be answered if the promise of these new networks is to be achieved. The paper concludes that it is important that these questions be addressed because the existing regulatory framework is ill-equipped to cope with the potential economic, political, and social implications of technological changes that already have begun.