If the whole debate on broadband teaches us anything it is that ownership and control matter. For Telstra, they own what is still the critical bottleneck in broadband, the link out of the home. Given that, apart from letting Telstra own the rest of the network we need regulation in order to have a hope of diversified ownership.
This issue is not lost on Google who today advocate models giving households the ownership of the link from their home.
This may all sound rather abstract, but a trial experiment in Ottawa, Canada is trying out the consumer-owned model for a downtown neighborhood of about 400 homes. A specialized construction company is already rolling out fiber to every home, and it will recoup its investment from individual homeowners who will pay to own fiber strands outright, as well as to maintain the fiber over time. The fiber terminates at a service provider neutral facility, meaning that any ISP can pay a fee to put its networking equipment there and offer to provide users with Internet access. Notably, the project is entirely privately funded. (Although some schools and government departments are lined up to buy their own strands of fiber, just like homeowners.)
Two years ago I proposed that Australia could have achieved this easily by instead of selling off Telstra, by just handing back the copper-pair into homes back to the people. Post-privatisation that appears not to be a viable option but who knows. In any case, if I wanted to build fibre out of my home and to a node, surely I should be able to do it. This is especially the case after my government spends taxpayer money on a fibre to the node network.
Of course, it is possible that wireless mesh might overcome this bottleneck too. Nicholas Gruen points me to Meraki who is proposing and rolling out just that. However, even doing this requires regulation at the exchange and a meeting with Telstra.