Re: Why is it ...
Radio frequencies were long ago realised as a scarce resource so the ITU was set up to let states manage them. This has let to rather mixed results: sometimes auctions or leases have worked well in that they earned a lot of money and were efficiently used. In most countries there are only a few unlicensed bands such as those used for wifi. It's possible to argue that this is both a good thing: wifi has become ubiquitous and is undoubtedly useful; but it's also a pretty shitty standard that was rushed to the market and has huge problems in areas of high density (an example of the "tragedy of the commons"). There are other ways of looking at this situation.
I don't know the pricing in the UK but I'd expect it to be restrictive. In general, countries with relatively high population density will experience problems of congestion. Conversely, there will also be more commercial interest in providing services to the large, dense population making auctions more likely.
Fibre really is the best thing for backhaul. Various radio technologies may indeed help bridge the gap where FTTH may be prohibitive, though FTTK should now be possible to anywhere with a water supply. The problem with bespoke solutions is less likely to be the cost of licensing spectrum as in knowing you can keep the kit updated and maintained. Femto cells are emerging as the industry standard approach here. They have the added advantage of extending the range of the mobile network.