Re: How hard is it really?
So my new, start-up* US ISP can deliver 100% broadband coverage to the entire US, including Alaska, Hawaii and the barrier islands!
*Terms and conditions apply, contact your account manager for a quote.
So basically I could run fibre to every location in the US, subject to survey, regulatory restrictions etc. Install costs may be into the hundreds of thousands, but it's available. Or coming soon.
Or you could be a lucky resident in a new condo or gated community. You have fibre to your home/apartment. Rejoice! Or not, because that fibre is owned by the developers and isn't covered by any CLEC/ILEC regulations so you have no choice of supplier. Unless you want to pay that supplier to run you new cable. And they can persuade the developer/landlord to let it.
Or you may be in incumbent land where they've replaced aging copper with fibre. Congratulations! You may now get broadband! But being fibre, it's again probably not covered by FCC rules allowing competitive access to local copper because the copper's no longer there. And if it's not a regulated product (or provider), then it may dodge USO (Universal Service Obligation) charges that are meant to transfer money from big cities with large subscriber bases to smaller operators in rural areas.
But that can be why there are many competing providers promising full coverage in every census area.. Because if they do, then they may qualify for USO handouts, along with other incentives that may be on offer at the muni, state or federal level. So basically the US has a large and complex regulatory system that generally doesn't really support the customer.
And behind all that are some basic technical and political challenges. Like defining 'broadband'. Then defining that as a Universal Service. Then figuring out how to pay for that to get 100% coverage and also promote competition. Or realising it's really a natural monopoly, but monopolys are bad and generally unlawful. And 100% broadband is hugely expensive. xDSL's limited by copper pair length & quality. So is DOCSIS cable. So is fibre, ie cheap multi-mode optics over plastic fibre for short distances or inside condos vs expensive single mode runs to serve rural farmhouses. That's why heatmaps would show commercial reality, ie where there's high population density, there's likely better services and more competition.
IMHO, the consumer-friendly approach is monopoly infrastructure based on defined standards. So that could be FTTH based on say, 1Gbps Ethernet or VLAN to each property. Competition would then be on services offered over that infrastructure from PoP to consumer unit.. Which would be technically simple(ish), but would also need regulation and legislative support. One can but dream though.