Re: UK Fibre Optic Distribution: It beggars belief
Lots of reasons. Some can certainly be laid at the door of the left's favourite bogeywoman, but not all, I think.
Housing density does have an impact; those figures in the article for Seoul show not only a massive rate of building, but a big change in the type of tenure. The English, historically, tend to deisre houses far more than flats/apartments. So, to provide fibre to the 250 or so houses in the street where I live, for example, means a lot of bits of fibre, and a lot of work
If all those dwellings were in a block (or even a substantial chunk of them), putting fibre into the block would provide high speed residential service to everyone. Yes, if they wanted a direct fibre connection, there would still be 250 outlets, but more alternatively - as companies like Ask4 do - you would provide Ethernet in each dwelling, and it would still be faster.
As well as housing density, tenure has an impact, too. Most apartment buildings in England are leasehold, rather than commonhold. When I looked at this back on PCW, one of the points made to me (may have been by Ask4; I'd have to dig out the notes) was that to provide service to a whole building, once it's been built, you have to conclude a separate legal agreement with every single person. That's why it's much easier to put this sort of stuff in with new build, when you can just deal with the developer. Even in social housing, you have to do that, because of the council house sales (see, there's Maggie again), so a block is no longer owned just by one organisation.
Putting stuff into new build would, on the face of it, be one of the easiest ways of moving stuff along. But we just aren't building homes at anything like the rate we need them. And the ones we do build are all too often designed more as investment vehicles than anything else. Much as people who work in our big cities might long for genuinely affordable flats with great connectivity built in, they're not going to get them when it's easier for housing companies to make swanky pads that can be used by wealth investors to make a killing or launder their ill-gotten cash.
As others have mentioned, there are issues with the regulation in the UK, which is constantly struggling to enforce competition because that's apparently a universal good, even if it means that the major operator is disadvantaged and may be less likely to invest (the consumers, it seems, don't actually come into it, beyond some policy wonk saying "but competition always works in the best interest of consumers"
Sorting out the broadband in the UK isn't, in my view, simply a technical matter, or one of investment in the right technology. It is bound up with our dysfunctional housing system, rampant short-termism in the markets, and a regulatory regime that concerns itself more with dogma than with outcomes for the consumer.