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.