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UPDATE 191 New Build Homes in Portsmouth Left with SLOW Broadband

Wednesday, Jul 27th, 2016 (12:37 pm) - Score 1,752

The Guardians Gate Residents Association (GGRA), which represents new build homes on the ‘Guardians Gate’ development in Milton (Portsmouth), has said that it is “angry and frustrated” over the failure of Openreach (BT) and property developer Bellway to roll-out superfast broadband.

Building of the development began in 2013 and final site hand-overs are now starting to happen, but early residents are already complaining that they’ve been left to suffer typical broadband download speeds of just 2-4Mbps and performance can drop below 1Mbps during peak periods.

On top of that many residents claim that Bellway’s sales staff had initially assured buyers that “the development would be able to benefit from superfast broadband” but, despite some homes selling for in excess of £350,000, the developer has now confirmed that they “were only required to install traditional BT copper telephone wiring” and have no interest in contributing towards faster connectivity.

Chris Green, Secretary of the GGRA, said:

“In this day of digital inclusion, it is unbelievable that two major companies would seek to leave a significant digital not-spot in the middle of a major city. Superfast broadband is no longer considered a luxury but a standard household utility service. The incremental cost of laying fibre when the original telephone lines were installed would have been insignificant, instead BT and Bellway chose to leave 400+ residents with out-dated services.

Many residents moved from areas of Portsmouth with superfast broadband services on the promise of the service being available at Guardians Gate. We therefore encourage BT and Bellway to ‘get connected’ and enter into discussions with us to find and fund a solution.”

Part of the problem stems from the fact that the development began in 2013, which meant that it wasn’t included into BT’s commercial roll-out of FTTC/P based “fibre broadband” services and also missed out on the initial state aid fuelled Hampshire Superfast Broadband project. Neither would have seen the project (the same has happened elsewhere in the UK).

Much of the blame must thus reside with the property developer, not least because they didn’t have to use Openreach. Ofcom’s existing Universal Service Obligation (USO) also only requires BT’s network access division to deploy the minimum level of service, unless the developer requests otherwise.

The Government are of course trying to improve the USO to deliver a minimum speed of 10Mbps, but this won’t be enforced until 2020. Similarly all the new rules for property developers, which require high-speed broadband to be factored into the planning process (example), as well as the new agreements between BT, Virgin Media, GTC and the Home Builders Federation (examples here and here), will have no impact as they only apply to future developments.

In the meantime Openreach has offered to do a co-funded FTTC broadband upgrade, but this would require local residents to cover their shortfall of around £9,759 +vat. However the GGRA understandably oppose this approach, not least since most of the streets around them have already received such a connection and without having to pay through the nose for it.

Many of the residents also have huge mortgages to pay off and until all of the homes are filled then it would be difficult for the initial residents to cover the total cost. Equally the fact that the development sits in the middle of Portsmouth might separately mean that it would not be eligible for state aid support via future phases of the Hampshire Superfast Broadband project. We have queried the matter with Openreach and are awaiting a reply.

UPDATE 28th July 2016

We’ve had a short response from BT, although as you can imagine they are being kept rather busy by Ofcom’s Strategic Review.

An Openreach Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We understand how frustrated the residents of Guardian Gate are that they do not have fibre broadband yet.

We are working in collaboration with Bellway to take a wider look at all their sites in the region to find a way to deliver fibre at a lower cost. We are hopeful that we can come up with a proposition that works for everyone.”

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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