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Shropshire Seek to Encourage Better Broadband for New Build Houses

Fri, Sep 21st, 2018 (8:18 am) - Score 381
house building uk broadband

The Shropshire County Council is considering the introduction of an accreditation scheme for new build home developments, which would act like a checklist for planning officers and applicants in order to help “highlight the qualitative aspects of schemes that sometimes get missed,” such as the need for broadband.

At present the local state aid funded Connecting Shropshire project is already working with Openreach (BT) and Airband in order to ensure that 98% of homes and businesses across the county can order a “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) capable ISP network by 2021 (here). But keeping up with the ever rising growth of new build properties doesn’t make this any easier.

The project’s latest update also notes that they “regularly receive enquiries from owners of properties on new housing developments asking when we’ll be providing their new home with access to superfast broadband. The simple answer, generally speaking, is that we won’t. This is because we don’t have State Aid approval to invest public funding in improving access to broadband in new postcode areas.”

Instead the update threw the weight of responsibility back to developers by saying that it is “not unreasonable to expect the developers to include superfast broadband in their on-site infrastructure, and many do. However, in some cases, people buy homes and expect that broadband will be provided, only to be disappointed once they move in.”

Meanwhile new home buyers are merely told to “check the availability of superfast broadband” before they buy, which doesn’t always work as new build addresses often aren’t recognised by availability checkers. Plus you can’t always trust the property developer to tell you the truth about what will exist at completion (make sure to get what they promise in writing).

Connecting Shropshire Statement

In 2016, before Connecting Shropshire went out to tender for Contract 3, we carried out an Open Market Review. Under this process, broadband infrastructure suppliers were sent lists of premises on the Ordnance Survey AddressBase. The data only included homes that had been built and registered at that time.

It is not unreasonable to expect the developers to include superfast broadband in their on-site infrastructure, and many do. However, in some cases, people buy homes and expect that broadband will be provided, only to be disappointed once they move in. Buyers of any property, new or old, are strongly recommended to check the availability of superfast broadband, if it is important to them, before they buy.

Chris Taylor, Connecting Shropshire’s Programme Manager, has separately added (here) that currently “there is no UK law that forces developers to provide superfast broadband in the homes that they build,” which is half right. In fact most new developments have been required, since the start of 2017 (here), to ensure that they’re “equipped with a high-speed-ready in-building physical infrastructure, up to the network termination points.”

Sadly including support for such infrastructure (e.g. building spare cable ducts) is only half the battle. The property developer still needs to find a network operator who will actually make use of what they’ve built, which doesn’t always happen.

The situation has at least improved quite a bit and one recent study noted that the majority of new builds were now being equipped with superfast or better broadband connectivity (here). This is partly thanks to UK government pressure, which has helped to encourage Openreach, Virgin Media and others to work more closely with property developers.

The Government has also been encouraging local authorities to factor the need for good broadband into their planning approval process since 2015 (here), which is being formalised a bit more through the National Planning Policy Framework. This is likely to be where Shropshire’s checklist idea stems from, even though other councils have been doing something similar for the past couple of years.

Most recently the new Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) has also suggested that the Government will try to “guarantee” full fibre connections to new build developments (i.e. changes to streamline wayleaves and mandate fibre connections), although this won’t help anybody who may be struggling with such a problem today.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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7 Responses
  1. Meadmodj

    OR now recommends FTTP on new build and has “free infrastructure” arrangements with the HBF if more than 30 dwellings. But progress depends on the developer, its their choice. Many of the current developments were planned a few years ago so only reference a “telecom point” in their brochures and broadband was an after thought or regarded as the buyers responsibility. Hopefully now the major developers are engaging a provider in good time. Locally to me that appears to be the case. The current benefit of OR is the wider range of ISPs but currently many residents will not want to jump to higher speed/cost options and may not see the longer term benefit. Therefore OR need to be more flexible on Fibre only installs. If the government feel they cannot impose Fibre to be mandatory across the UK they could at least make Superfast the minimum and Fibre mandatory on developments of 30 or more houses.
    Smaller development and in-fills need to engage a provider at the same time as they would for Electricity, Gas and Water.

    • Meadmodj

      FYI. One of the new neighbourhoods near me (1900 homes) later phases are being provided by IFNL/OFNL. There is a no aerial or satellite dish policy by the developer. Selected ISPs offer Fibre from £24 per month (30Mbps) with up to 300 Mbps residential for around £60 with VoiP phone options. Packages include special offers for Sky etc. Business options for 1Gbs.
      Appears to be a well thought through offering which BT will need think hard about.

  2. Fastman

    That means you can only buy there service for ever. There is no openreach network in that development

    • Meadmodj

      Yes their “authorised” ISPs are limited. Ofcom will need to address these monopolies as they increase in percentage terms. OFNL say they are “open” so presumably other ISPs could engage.
      Although the OR FTTP is “free” to the developer it doesn’t meet their who requirement and is not flexible enough.

  3. chris conder

    Just for the record, what we have found with new builds is that if the developers have any sense they will put their own ducts in so that anyone can run the services through them. If they take BT ducts and put them in then they belong to openreach and other providers have to pay a fortune to use them. Until the developers are prepared to spend the money they are limiting their properties to a bt service and altnets can’t really help without digging everything up again. The solution is to run their own ducting parallel to the openreach ones, then the customers have a real choice. They can choose superfarce copper or hyperfast fibre from an altnet if there is one in the area.

    • Fastman

      more disinformation as developers actually get paid to connect to Openreach network Network it called a SOD payment and is paid per plot

      new build post 2016 (based on first occupancy dates now don’t have copper in at all but only fibre

      FYI its not a BT service Developer deals with Openreach

    • colin Brooks

      and over 30 premises

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