The Government has outlined plans for new build homes to have superfast broadband connectivity, but the news has been met with criticism.
The Government has worked with Openreach – BT’s local access network business – and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) on an agreement which aims to deliver superfast broadband connectivity to new build properties in the UK.
The new deal will see fibre based broadband offered to all new developments either for free or as part of a co-funded initiative. It is estimated that more than half of all new build properties can be connected to fibre broadband free of charge to developers.
In an age where so many new PC and tech products require an internet connection, deals like this could help increase the sale of connected products as more homeowners have access to better networks.
However, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms expert at broadband and TV advice site Cable.co.uk, was quick to criticise this morning’s news.
“Thousands of homes up and down the UK have been built or are being built with unfit broadband connectivity. Cable.co.uk has received countless complaints from new-build homebuyers over the past twelve months. They are still pouring in, and the government’s answer to them in this instance is wholly inadequate," he said.
“What is the purpose of a network provider making it easier for developers to install proper broadband infrastructure if it still remains the homebuilder’s choice as to whether or not to take action? These measures are arbitrary and unlikely to have any effect. They comprise neither legislative enforcement of superfast for new builds, nor any obligation for homebuilders to inform buyers they face years of broadband misery.
“Today’s announcement allows homebuilders to continue to do exactly what they have been doing: To sell homes with little or no broadband connectivity and without forewarning their buyers. As such, it is unlikely to appease the many thousands of families forced to choose between living with little or no connectivity, or selling up and moving on."
As part of the agreement, Openreach is introducing an online planning tool for homebuilders. This will tell them whether properties in a given development can be connected to fibre for free, or if a contribution is needed from the developer to jointly fund the deployment of the local fibre network.
From today, the housing industry will have access to a ‘rate card’ from Openreach which details the fixed cost contributions required by homebuilders in those cases where joint funding is required. Openreach will make a ‘significant’ contribution itself before seeking any funds from developers.
HBF will promote and support uptake of the co-funding offer amongst their members, and emphasise the need to plan for connectivity early in the development.
Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “The Government’s ambition to build one million new homes over the course of this Parliament will house families and future generations to come.
"Broadband connectivity is just one thing that home buyers now expect when buying a new build, so this industry-led push to make superfast, or indeed ultrafast, broadband speeds available by default in new homes represents a very important step in meeting the UK’s digital needs.”
Clive Selley, CEO Openreach, said: “This is an important step towards bringing fibre broadband to as many new build properties as possible. Today’s announcement underlines Openreach’s commitment to further extend its fibre network – which reaches more than 24 million premises – to benefit even more communities across the country."
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