The debate about next generation access networks in the UK continues to develop apace. This week, the Broadband Stakeholders Group held a conference on next generation access called ‘Beyond Pipe Dreams’.Two interesting new reports were published at the conference which are relevant for considerations of investment in new access networks more generally.The first report looks at how we can evaluate the economic and social value of a next generation network. While the second report looks at models for public sector intervention in next generation broadband.The discussion at the conference placed as much emphasis on the potential quality of next generation broadband packages as on their raw speed. Characteristics such as symmetry, low latency, predictability etc. were seen to be essential for developing innovative services which could be delivered over broadband. This is an interesting evolution of the debate taking us beyond the simpler numerical modelling of bandwidth requirements that has done before to try and define the demand for better access networks.