Smartgrids, telemedicine could drive broadband adoption

That's because the "bandwidth hogs" are typically more willing to spend more money to get more capacity every month. Those high-paying customers will help subsidize the infrastructure buildout. And lower-income consumers can benefit from less-expensive services that offer less bandwidth.

Shapiro will be talking about this issue again on Friday at 10 a.m. in Capitol Building Room HC-6. (Here's his report released in August.)

Darrell West, director of governance studies at Brookings, who moderated the panel, responded to questions about "open-access" regulations.

It was at Brookings that Julius Genachowski laid out his plans for net neutrality regulations in a September speech.

"Even the position of the FCC seems pretty complicated," he said. "He endorsed open access, but he laid out caveats. ISPs should be able to engage in some form of network management. What everybody's watching now is how broadly or narrowly that concept is going to be defined."

"And he seemed, near the end of his speech, to be open to premium pricing," West said. "He seemed to be open, at least in the abstract, to offering different pricing levels to people using different amounts of bandwidth."