New homes in the UK will be gigabit-ready

In what it calls a significant step forward in its plans to level the UK and accelerate the nationwide rollout of world-class broadband with gigabit speeds, the UK government has announced it will legislate to ensure that new homes come with future-ready gigabit broadband.

In the Queen’s Speech on 19 December 2019, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s newly elected government indicated that it would introduce laws to speed up the delivery of gigabit-enabled broadband across the UK. In sections dedicated to how the government wanted to improve the UK’s technology infrastructure and improve access across the country, the administration pledged to support the rollout of gigabit-enabled broadband across the UK with legislation facilitating the task of telecommunications companies. install digital infrastructure and ensure that all new homes are built with reliable and fast internet.

The speech also contained measures designed to ensure that all new homes are built with the fastest connectivity available, increasing certainty for businesses investing in gigabit-speed networks. It also aims to create a cheaper and faster court process for telecommunications companies to obtain interim code rights (or access rights) for up to 18 months.

Such measures, first mooted in October 2019, would mean providers could install broadband connections when a landlord has failed to respond to repeated access requests. The government has also pledged to change the law so that all new homes are required to have the infrastructure to support gigabit-enabled connections.

Although the Government’s ambition has been clear to make it easier for people to work from home by providing homes with fast and reliable connections, the Government has now noted that a fifth of new homes are still being built without broadband connections. , mainly in smaller developments where the cost may be higher or network operators have not had the time to build connections before completion.

Initiating this process, on January 8, the Government presented to Parliament and gave a first reading to the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold) Bill 2019-20 and has now declared that it will amend the regulations for construction to ensure that all new homes have the right infrastructure. to support gigabit broadband and property developers must work with network operators to install internet speeds above 1,000Mbps in new homes, up to a cap of £2,000 per dwelling.

The move means developers will be legally bound to install what is described as high-quality digital infrastructure from the start, make it a priority as part of the build, and ensure that broadband companies are on board before the first brick is laid.

The legislation, which will be tabled as soon as parliamentary time permits, is also designed to remove the need to retrospectively install broadband infrastructure and reduce disruption and high costs. The policy, which will be established as secondary legislation, applies to all new residential housing, including conversions and self-built homes, but excluding renovated buildings, schools, hotels and prisons. .

“This legislation means that every new home will be built for the future and will give people access to world-class broadband speeds as soon as they move in,” said UK Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden. “It’s all part of our plan to deliver on our commitment to give everyone in the UK access to gigabit broadband, as we connect and level the country.

The UK government is also working with the carrier community to secure new commitments that they will contribute to the costs of installing gigabit broadband in new homes. Virgin Media will contribute at least £500 and, in the case of some larger sites, £1,000. The Openreach division of BT, the national broadband provider, has pledged a combined contribution with developers of £3,400, with a maximum developer contribution of £2,000. The government expects to have the agreement of the other operators in the coming weeks.

“Providing full fiber to new homes is an important part of Openreach’s commitment to investing in faster, more reliable broadband technology – as part of our Fiber First strategy,” said Openreach CEO, Clive Selley.

“We have…gradually lowered the parcel size threshold at which we offer a free all-fiber installation for new developments. This is now available for small developments of just 20 homes. Additionally, we’ve capped the amount homebuilders contribute if they ask Openreach to build full-fiber or smaller-scale developments of just two and three premises – to help encourage full fiber adoption. “, he added.

“We welcome the government’s announcement that all new homes will need to have the necessary infrastructure to support gigabit-enabled connections, and we will work closely with the government and homebuilders on how best to achieve this,” added Virgin Media CEO Lutz Schüler. . “Many property developers have been building brand new homes with second-rate broadband connections for far too long.”

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