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Investigation Slams ‘Dreadful’ Broadband In New Homes

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Working from home? Best not do it in a new home then, as investigation reveals ‘shocking state’ of broadband for new builds

An investigation undertaken by broadband advice website Cable.co.uk, has revealed that only one in 20 British homebuilders can confidently state that decent broadband is available in the new homes they build.

This is despite the fact that BT signed deal with Home Builders Federation in February 2016. Openreach said at the time that it was prepared to spend an average of £550 connecting each home and expected 56 percent of new builds to be connected without an additional cost to the developer.

bt-openreachCheck Before You Buy

But over a year later this has not helped, as Cable said it probe was triggered after it received hundreds of complaints from new-build residents whose broadband provision is either unfit or non-existent.

The lack of decent broadband provision of course scuppers any chance of home working.

According to the investigation carried out in conjunction with Atomik Research, residents moving into new-build houses are twice as likely to have to wait a month or more to have broadband installed than people moving into older homes.

And it seems as though the situation has not improved over the last 12 months, after only one property developer (out of 20) questioned able to confirm that fibre broadband was available in the homes it had built.

This single property developer, Mount Anvil, only develops luxury properties in central London with access to fibre broadband.

Property developers it seems have to drastically improve their communication with homebuyers on the matter, as only a quarter of those moving into a new-build were told the speed they were likely to get by the seller.

Even worse, more than a third (37 percent) of homebuyers had to investigate the speed they would get themselves.

“When you buy a brand new home, poor connectivity is the last thing most of us expect,” explained Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk. “Sadly, this is why many buyers of new homes fail to check whether adequate broadband is available prior to signing on the dotted line.”

“While the struggle for decent broadband in rural locations makes headlines across the UK, there is currently no legislation that obliges homebuilders to ensure new builds are properly connected, and as such new problems are being created at the same time as current ones are being addressed,” Howdle added.

“Legislation is needed. The notion of building new homes with old problems is obviously absurd,” he said. “In the meantime, anyone considering purchasing a brand new home should thoroughly investigate whether broadband will be available and what speed they will be able to get prior to purchase.”

Silicon UK has approached BT for comment on the matter, but has not recieved a response at the time of writing.

Home Working

The lack of broadband in thousands of new homes will remove the ability of these homeowners to work from home.

Complaints about the lack of access to decent broadband provision has traditionally stemmed from those people located in rural communities. But now it seems that those in new build housing estates also have to contend with the same problems.

New homeowners it seems, simply cannot understand why BT still installs copper cables in brand new location, but not fibre cables at the same time.

This could be explained by the fact that copper cables are only used to carry voice calls and slow broadband, and tend to be connected to the nearest telephone exchange. Superfast fibre on the other hand is a completely separate network, and is only used to carry data.

Fibre cables tend to routed differently as unlike the copper cables, they are not connected to the closest telephone exchange, but rather are directly wired up to the regional fibre hub (i.e. the BT fibre telephone exchange usually found in the nearest local town or city).

Also new housing estates tend to be hampered by poor mobile coverage, as new developments are often built on the edge of towns and aren’t covered by existing mobile masts.

Virgin Media last year 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.

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