Re: Still seems a bit pointless
"BT seems to be gung ho on it, but I honestly can't see how it will be any cheaper than going for full FTTP except in places with underground wiring and a nightmare network of collapsed ducts."
If you have a distribution point at the top of a pole with twenty phone lines coming in and twenty going out to customers, you can bundle the incoming side together to provide backhaul and power using an EFM type technology to the mini G.Fast kit you then stick at the top of the pole and replace POTS with VoiP. Fibre backhaul would be better but it's not absolutely essential.
"FTTC, while still a massive short-sighted bodge"
FTTC seems sensible. Only something like one in seven premises that can have super broadband actually take it. If you do a big FTTP rollout to a town and only one in seven take it up you've then spent an utter fortune replacing a copper network that was perfectly adequate for the demands of six out of seven customers.
I get why telcos are wary - history shows that every single instance of gung-ho network build-out results in bankruptcy if privately funded. Virgin are only profitable now because they bought up their assets in fire sales and had the debt written off. I don't think the price the market is willing to pay for super broadband supports the investment required to deliver it - certainly not for FTTP.
The other, significant, problem for ex-incumbents is that even if they're willing to take the risk the result is then indistinguishable from predatory pricing behaviour, which is illegal. How can a frisky young upstart take on a major, established player, with access to cheaper finance, better bargaining power with suppliers and massive scale efficiencies if that same incumbent is prepared to not make a return on their investment for twenty years or more? The price the incumbent sells into the market at might be twice the frisky upstart's cost of doing the same. If the regulator instructs the incumbent to sell at a higher price to give the newcomers a chance, no-one would buy it, so why bother building it?
The problem with all of this is commercial, not technical. The return on investment for FTTP is too low and the risks too high for many former incumbents to want to play. The payback period is long which means continually falling prices and unforeseen regulatory changes increase that risk even further. After all, if there was free money laying around that the telcos were choosing to ignore other companies would be doing FTTP in a big way. In the UK, aside from BT, Virgin are best placed to offer FTTP to customers on their own network and seemingly they can't make the numbers work either. Britain has lots of competition and our prices are pretty low - which is great - but that environment makes investment decisions tough. The vast majority of broadband customers buy on price, not technology or speed or service.