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UPDATE Property Developers in Cheltenham Told to Build Fast Broadband

Monday, February 23rd, 2015 (8:09 am) - Score 935
new home construction

The Cheltenham Borough Council in Gloucestershire (England) will on Thursday consider a proactive motion that would require future planning applications for new developments to include provision for the delivery of “high-speed/super-fast broadband“, which is something that far too many new builds continue to overlook.

At present not a month seems to go by without at least one report of people having moved into a new home on a recently built estate only to find that the property they’ve purchased lacks superfast broadband connectivity and in some cases even a working phone line (examples here, here and here).

The central Government’s Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, has also repeatedly said: “You wouldn’t move into a brand new house in 2014/2015 and not expect to get superfast broadband. It is unacceptable.” Never the less the situation continues, which is largely because property developers aren’t under any legal onus to ensure that kind of service delivery. This is a shame since it’s always cheaper to install it during the early build stages.

Meanwhile the USO that is placed upon BTOpenreach only requires that the national UK telecoms operator deliver, upon a valid request, a working phone line that can cater for the most basic of “functional internet access“. Broadband is not yet a part of the Universal Service Obligation, although there are growing calls for this to change and it may become an election issue. Hopefully this, if it happens, would be properly considered in order to avoid any unintended consequences and to keep any price rises under control.

In the meantime some councils have been talking about taking a more proactive approach and the motion (item 10) to be tabled for Thursday’s meeting in Cheltenham, which has been proposed by Councillor Whyborn and seconded by Councillor Britter, is the latest example.

Councillor Whyborn’s motion states:

[The] Council notes with concern that new housing developments are being put forward without adequate high-speed/super-fast broadband facilities, and that in many cases no suitable public funding streams exist for new estates in suburban areas.

Council therefore resolves to initiate a policy such that future planning applications for new developments will have a requirement to enable access to appropriate quality of broadband facilities at minimal set-up cost to the householder. Council therefore instructs officers to develop further detail to support the policy of this resolution at the earliest practical opportunity, and to incorporate this into the local plan.”

However it’s worth noting that the Home Builders Federation (HBF), whose members in England and Wales deliver around 80% of the new homes built each year, recently warned that a future EU requirement for all new buildings to be “high-speed broadband ready” from 2017 onwards could “seriously damage” future construction (here).

On the flip side some developers, such as the Berkeley Group, have already taken the initiative by becoming one of the first to announced that they will seek to provide all new homes in the United Kingdom with “fibre optic broadband” infrastructure by 2016 (here) and a few smaller developers are already doing something similar.

It’s good to see positive developments like this, although we do feel as if it’s something that could have been pushed much more robustly a couple of years ago. A firm measure, at the very least one that could be targeted towards larger developments of several hundred homes or more, is long overdue. Property that can boast of superfast connectivity is usually much more desirable to buyers.

UPDATE 27th Feb 2015

The council has voted unanimously to adopt the proposed motion.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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8 Responses
  1. Avatar fttx

    We’ve supplied a number of FTTP solution for Developers.
    Don’t worry about developers, they are quite capable of future proofing builds.

    Problem is, if they do create full FTTP Open access Networks, backhaul can become an issue. There is no enthusiasm for operators to turn up with their phone lines.

    I have been amazed at one, where we had supplied a full Point-2-Point 1Gb capable infrastructure. The developer had to instal SAT at the Headend as the ‘Operator’ was in no hurry to turn up. I think the fingers need to be pointed in the right direction.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Which operator ? You can buy backhaul from many suppliers , don’t want Bt? Use another provider simple

  2. Avatar fttx

    Please advise what POTS provider you would recommend?

    • Avatar FibreFred

      If you are talking voice Bt have to turn up as to when it depends when the developer engaged Bt and leadtimes

  3. Avatar FibreFred

    So you are saying the estate was fibre and the dev installed sat for voice and data ?? Why?

  4. Avatar DTMark

    Already getting enquiries from people moving into the new build estate near us asking for the best broadband options.

    The response “4G is the best option, followed by 3G – there is the option of ADSL but it is probably too slow to be of any use, we did attempt to work with the developers to build a modern network but they weren’t interested and we gave up with them – the area may be reviewed before the end of 2017 and may or may not receive upgrades” is probably not what they expected to hear.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Good on you for making the effort , if the houses don’t sell or those moving in complain its clear who to blame

    • Avatar DTMark

      Maybe the site developers have been a little surprised to see someone walk in brandishing an email and asking why they didn’t do more.

      But then, buyer beware. People forget just how poor this country is for infra, and seem to mistake it for some forward-thinking country most particularly in respect of modern services like internet connectivity.

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