BroadbandNetworks

Virgin Media Targets New Homes As Broadband Expansion Continues

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Virgin Media invites home builders to get their properties connected from day one, encouraging home buyers

Virgin Media has struck a deal with the Home Builders Federation (HBF) to make it easier for new properties to be connected to its network – offering the new residents a choice of superfast broadband from the moment they move in.

The company is currently embarking on a £3 billion expansion of its network that will see its footprint reach 65 percent of the UK, or 17 million premises. Project Lightning is largely targeting areas already served by BT Openreach in a bid to improve choice for consumers and businesses.

Residents in some new build estates have complained that connectivity was either non-existent or inadequate when they moved in, with some builders telling homeowners they were under “no obligation” to provide broadband.

Virgin Media new build

packetfrontOthers have been told by communication providers that builders rejected approaches to install superfast broadband and residents would now have to wait two years to get connected.

An online portal will give home builders the opportunity to register their construction and will offer technical guidance. Virgin hopes the offer will be attractive to home builders as it can make their properties more attractive to buyers.

“With connectivity now vital to the way we live our lives, being able to equip today’s modern, high quality housing with 21st Century connectivity is a key consideration for builders,” said Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF.

“Competition between network builders will help to ensure more homeowners can enjoy all of the benefits of the digital age, helping to make new build even more attractive to homebuyers.”

Homeowner fury

A site assessment is carried out free of charge to see if a new estate is suitable. Virgin Media told TechWeekEurope the closer to its existing network a location is, the more likely it is to be accepted. However the money being Project Lightning means nowhere is being ruled out, especially if a new estate provides a route to other locations previously considered out of reach.

If a building project is accepted, Virgin Media will provide developers with equipment and refund them the cost of the work. A dedicated manager for each project will be assigned.

“By partnering with Virgin Media, developers can build 21st Century homes, equipped with the most modern broadband infrastructure delivering the fastest speeds,” added Paul Buttery, chief operating officer at Virgin Media.

“With our network growing at a faster pace than ever, the more demand we get from developers, the more we can do to support them.”

BT has reached a similar deal with HBF, with Openreach promising to cover the cost of connection up to the tune of around £550, with more than half of new builds connected without additional expense for the developer.

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