Re: Wrong question altogether
>So, frankly, doing something about getting that region out of poverty should probably come first [before broadband internet].
Well, that depends upon whether access to to broadband internet can help to get the poorest people out of poverty. It's complex, so I won't call it either way. There is potential for broadband internet to help with education, access to market data, organisation of people into groups to better represent their interests. There is potential for abuse, too.
Even if broadband didn't actively help get these people out of poverty, it might be that Branson is taking a punt on them becoming wealthier over time anyway, in which case by the time they can afford his broadband services his infrastracture will already be in place.
BTW, the £40 monthly bill in the UK is for the fast 50Mb cable broadband. The term 'broadband' is also used in the UK for copper wire internet (2 Mbs and up), for which the consumer is charged much less.
I've just tried to dig up the speech Arthur C Clarke gave on the launch of the first satellite to provide India with satellite television (reproduced in the book 'Greetings! Carbon Based Bipeds'). He speaks optimistically about the potential using it to cheaply deliver health and agriculture information to millions of rural people, and his concern "what a shame if it is merely used to peddle soap".