A person could always become their own provider, although it's incredibly complicated on the legal front to be your own ISP, but it's not something that the public are prevented from doing. The costs of setting up your own service have the potential to be so great, that it makes more economic sense just to pay the corporations like BT, Comcast, AOL, etc.
Do I think Internet should be available free across wide areas? Yes and no, I imagine the only way to fund such a project would be an increase in government tax (only slight, but still an increase) or the diversion of funding from an important sector such as healthcare or education for the endeavour.
I think many people don't realise the sheer amount of hardware, cabling and regular maintenance required to provide high speed internet access across even rural areas.