How to get cheap universal broadband in the UK

In less than a week two satellite operators, Inmarsat and Google-backed O3b,  have targeted the remote, “Final Third” broadband market, offering speeds equivalent to fibre and cable TV, and in O3b’s case, cheekily offering backhaul services to the very operators who say it is too expensive to supply broadband to farmers and villagers.
This week also sees the opening of Vtesse Networks’ fibre to the home service to the villagers of Birch Green, a broadband “not spot” surrounded by Welwyn Garden City, Hertford and Potters Bar.
Just two years ago, the Broadband Stakeholders’ Group estimated it would cost £29bn to supply every UK home with fibre. Some estimates this year suggest the cost may have halved.
Whatever the true cost, one thing is clear: business and retail consumers care less about the pipe than about its content and the cost to receive it.
The government has already said it wants citizens to enjoy affordable 2Mbps connections, at a minimum. It can do that best by allowing free competition at the infrastructure level, be that satellite, WiMax, Wi-Fi, TV cable, bonded copper pairs, or even fibre itself.
And it should ensure that rent-seekers such as the former regional development agencies should not be able to compete with or patronise network operators and builders.

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Can you explain why 'free competition at the infrastructure level' is the best option? Considerations: + investments will only be made in order to make (large) profits, so what does that say about prices? + in the past free competition on railway or telephone infrastructure resulted in chaotic networks, and consequently nationalisation. + what will happen if an invester pulls out?
Competition based on infrastrcture provides consumers with the best technology at the lowest price. Some geographies and population densities are better suited to one technology than another. But technologies advance at different rates, so consumers will always have their pick of the best combination of product and cost if there is infrastructure-based competition. Prices: Prices will be high if companies are allowed an accelerated depreciation period ie they can recover the cost of their investment quicker than the expected life span of their investments. The expected life span of the fibre is 25 years; BT's Next Generation Access boss Bill Murphy says it will recover the £2.5bn it is spending on fibre to the cabinet in 11. That's why BT's price is and will be high. Nationalisation: Nationalisation was always a political choice, often taken "in the national interest". The US didn't nationalise the railways, but ended up with local monopolies that face competition from road hauliers. The same would be true in UK networks if the government hadn't nationalised them. The "chaos" is due to suppliers trying to corner the market, but the resulting competition provides more consumer choice and a fitter end product. The ISO's seven layer network model defines the interfaces, ie how things work between layers, not what happens in the layers themselves. There is no reason why the UK regulator cannot define interface standards that local network operators can use to connect to the national trunk networks. Investor withdrawal: Why would the investor withdraw if he or she was making money? When Tiscali quit the UK, it sold the business to TalkTalk, which is now the second biggest provider of retail broadband, and highly profitable. How was that a problem, except in the short term for a few Tiscali customers, who could easily move to another ISP?
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