Openreach says it will offer to connect new homes for free or as part of a joint-funding agreement with developers following criticisms about connectivity
Openreach will offer to connect every new home built in Britain to fibre, in many cases for free, following complaints from some residents in new build estates that connectivity was either non-existent or inadequate when they moved in.
A new tool will be made available to builders, explaining whether a development can be connected for free or whether a contribution will be necessary.
Openreach says it is prepared to spend an average of £550 connecting each home and expects 56 percent of new builds can be connected without an additional cost to the developer.
New home broadband
Should a contribution be required, Openreach will be transparent about the costs of connection. In most case, fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology will be offered, but fibre to the premise (FTTP) will be available too.
“This is an important step towards bringing fibre broadband to as many new build properties as possible,” said Clive Selley, the new Openreach CEO. “We recognise that high speed broadband connectivity is a major factor for homeowners when deciding to buy a house. That’s why we’re offering to deliver fibre to all new build developments either for free or as a co-funded model.
“With the support of the [Home Builders Federation] we’ve delivered a series of measures to give developers greater clarity, choice and more funding.”
BT has also pledged to clear 95 percent of its new site backlog by March 2016 and has promised to connect new homes within nine months of contracting.
A recent investigation by cable.co.uk has highlighted the problems that many residents have had with developers to ensure they have adequate broadband connections in their new homes, with Barratt Homes telling one development that it had “no obligation” to provide broadband and would not consider any further investigation.
Others 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.
The Home Builders Federation (HBF) says it will promote and support the uptake of the co-funding offer among its members and emphasis the need for adequate connectivity in new developments.
“Housebuilders are constantly striving to deliver on and surpass the expectations of customers as we continue to see housing supply grow,” said Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the HBF. “Broadband speeds are an increasingly important factor in the home buying process and this offer to developers will see more new build purchasers benefit from the very best connectivity to go alongside the many other advantages of purchasing a brand new home.”
The government is committed to reaching its own target of 95 percent superfast broadband coverage by 2017 and has welcomed Openreach’s commitment.
“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,” added Ed Vaizey, minister for the digital economy.
However some observers believe the offer does not go far enough
“Thousands of homes up and down the UK have been built or are being built with unfit broadband connectivity,” commented Dan Howdle, telecoms expert at Cable.co.uk. “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.
“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.”