Re: Good news or more likely a chimera
"If Virgin have solved this economic problem, that's awesome news."
That's a big "if" you have there, sir! Here at Cynic Towers, it is assumed that this is purely to increase the future value of the business since they're hoping to sell it to Vodafone. So the Cable Cowboy can make this commitment, knowing that he won't have to honour it. If the sale happens with a new and now much higher valuation (to Voda or anybody else), the new owner will be even more debt addled, and won't consider themselves bound by the previous owner's rash promises. A few infill extensions will occur, but the idea of a £3bn roll out? At 50% penetration on the four million homes they hope to pass that's around £1,500 per household - distribute that for those properties that will be more expensive to serve and you can see that it wouldn't be economic for a good chunk of the 4m homes they talk of.
You're quite right about the economic history of cable, and it is interesting to note that the same applied to railways, to the M6 Toll (still blissfully traffic free for the rich or spendthrift), and to Eurotunnel. Infrastructure is only investable at very high customer densities, and where geography and alternative solutions are limited, and that's why we have so few forms of genuinely universal infrastructure, and why bumpkin broadband is only going to happen slowly and with huge subsidies.
In this case we're talking about extending cable to the less optimal urban peasants (if it really made money they'd have done it first), so if this happens as claimed I'll be amazed. Gormless Dave is obviously impressed, but let's be honest, it doesn't take much, does it?