Traffic shaping is something that some users detest whilst many people don't even notice it. Matt Beal, Chief Technical Officer for BT Wholesale has given an in depth interview to ZDnet.co.uk.
It appears Matt Beal is confident that the 21st Century Network, which will operate over IP and remove the ATM backhaul network that currently links exchanges and service providers together, will negate the need for traffic shaping.
Users appear to be increasingly aware of congestion on their ADSL broadband connections, but it is often not clear if this is down to BT Wholesale or the broadband provider. The cost savings 21CN will bring may allow BT Wholesale to provision more capacity at the exchanges to reduce the effects of contention, but the above prediction about no traffic shaping being needed should not be interpreted to mean that no contention will be present in the 21CN network. Additionally traffic shaping may still be used by individual broadband providers to ensure that what it considers as 'core' applications will still work efficiently at peak times.
Some applications such a video service including BT Vision will probably still need 'flagging' to reserve bandwidth and ensure quality of service. If this was not done on the wholesale network, peak time video viewing may be as bad as listening to an AM radio with a broken aerial.
The subject of FTTx (Fibre to the cabinet or home) is raised again and it seems there is a feeling within BT that the requirements of allowing competitors equal access to a new fibre local loop is not much of a motivation to spend money. Also companies across Europe that are rolling out fibre are criticised for creating a digital divide. In the case of France and Germany the fibre roll-outs represent companies building new networks in countries that do not have extensive cable networks. Any new fibre network in the UK is immediately competing with Virgin Media who have a fibre/coax hybrid network passing some 45% of households, which makes the chance of someone apart from BT building it almost zero.