Re: The important question...
"Virgin's network reaches most UK homes and London has competing local networks from outfits like Colt. In a competitive market giving state backing to the biggest player will kill the others."
You must be living in a different country to me! The new-build homes destroying high-grade farm land around my town are not seeing anything more than the Universal Service Obligation of a basic POTS line with basic-rate ADSL - if they can get it. BT Openreach are not bothering to roll-out FTTH or FTTC, and VM are no-where to be seen. The local paper is full of people complaining they cannot get more than 1Mb/s - and that's providing their new shiny stupidly expensive fake copy of a Victorian town-house (complete with fake chimney - in keeping with an area that was farm land 6 months ago!) has not been wired with fake Copper-clad-Aluminium! Serves them right for buying crap, IMHO!!
Drive out a short distance to the villages and you have a choice of BT or nothing. Some of those villages are quite large, and growing. Head out into south Cambridgeshire and you will find some of those villages are still on dial-up!
There are parts of central London where you cannot get more than ADSL2+ as there is no-where for the FTTC cabinets, and no-one wants to dig up cobbled mews.
Openreach needs to be split off and BT made to stand on its own feet, or die. Companies and people will invest in a Plc if it's nothing to do with a former state monopoly - especially if they see their village offered fibre and a choice of suppliers that will not lock them into 24-month contracts!
The Universal Service Obligation needs to legally mandate Fibre to the Premises and stop pissing around with bits of copper (same for VM and their leaky co-ax)!
Building Regulations need to mandate Cat6 flood wiring in all build/re-build and rental, and FTTP for all new-build, whether that be housing, municipal, or business premises.
The government needs to ban Copper-clad-Aluminium and actually regulate the building industry instead of rubber-stamping the cash cow!