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House Builder Barratt Makes UK Full Fibre Broadband Mandatory UPDATE

Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 (9:00 am) - Score 4,512
new build home broadband uk ftth

Britain’s biggest house-builder, Barratt Developments, has today announced that they’re working with network providers Openreach (BT), Virgin Media and Hyperoptic to ensure that “gigabit-capableFTTP broadband ISP infrastructure is “installed as standard” across all of their new UK build developments.

At present Barratt claims to build around c.15,000 new homes every year and thus all of those will now come provided with “full fibre” broadband services as standard. The use of Ofcom’s regulated Cable Duct & Pole Access (DPA) solution also means that rival gigabit networks and ISPs, such as Virgin Media and Hyperoptic, will be better able able to serve the same premises as Openreach.

NOTE: Today over 37% of UK premises can access a gigabit-capable network, which falls to 19% for FTTP alone (here). Last year we separately noted that 87% of new build homes were being constructed with access to FTTP (here).

The new partnership separately supports OR’s existing commitment, which offers Fibre-to-the-Premises infrastructure “free of charge” to new housing development sites of 20+ properties (and reduced rates for smaller sites where developers make a contribution towards the build). Some 93% of all plots contracted with Openreach are now getting FTTP (e.g. 100% of plots on sites of 20+ homes and 41% of plots on smaller 2-19 premises sites).

Overall, Openreach currently builds FTTP to new build homes at a rate of over 200,000 every year (c. 4,000 new connections every week) and this in turn supports BT Group’s main goal, which is to cover 4.5 million premises by March 2021 (current build rate of c.40,000 per week), then 5.8m come September 2021 and 20m by around 2025-30 (costing c.£12bn). A max build rate of 3 million per year is envisaged.

Meanwhile Virgin Media are also continuing to expand their FTTP network too and Hyperoptic has an ambition to cover 5 million premises by 2024. Developments like this can only help those goals.

Steven Boyes, CEO of Barratt Developments, said:

“We’re really pleased to be able to offer this new unified service to our customers and Openreach has been integral to that. Delivering different full fibre services on a site by site basis can sometimes cause problems for customers, so by coming together to build a unified system with Barratt it will deliver a much better service, benefitting everyone.

Particularly now when everyone relies on fast and reliable broadband this new service will mean customers can enjoy their new home even more. A unified service with multiple providers hasn’t been delivered in the housebuilding industry before so it is testament to Openreach for their hard work and vision in helping making this happen. As the country’s leading housebuilder we’re proud to be offering this industry-first to our customers when they need it most.”

The advantage of an agreed approach like this for consumers is that they immediately get a much wider choice of ISPs and underlying networks when moving into their new home, which occurs without the streets needing to be dug up several times over by rivals.

Meanwhile partnerships like this may also see Hyperoptic moving toward catering for more Single Dwelling Units (SDUs – individual houses) instead of just large apartment blocks (MDUs), which has tended to be their main focus (although we have seen them connect a few SDUs before).

Liam McAvoy, Hyperoptic’s Senior Director of Biz Development, said:

“As a growing alternative network provider, we are pleased to be part of this ‘trio’ of infrastructure options offered by Barratt. We are committed to differentiating ourselves by ensuring our router equipment is pre-installed and ready for when the home-mover walks through the door – so they can start living their normal connected life straight away.”

Kim Mears OBE, MD Strategic Infrastructure Development, said:

“Like Openreach, Barratt understands the huge benefits of Full Fibre to both buyers and builders alike and the importance of ensuring everybody moving into a new build property can enjoy the advantages of this future proof technology … I hope other housebuilders will now follow Barratt’s lead in making Full Fibre mandatory across their own developments.”

Rob Evans, Virgin Media’s MD of Network Expansion, added:

“Our connectivity will provide residents with the ultrafast and reliable broadband services which have never been so important to the way we live our daily lives. It is essential that all new homes have access to the fastest speeds available and we will continue to work with developers across the UK to ensure more homes are connected to such vital services.”

At this point it’s worth reminding our readers that the UK Government are trying to introduce changes that will make it mandatory for property developers to ensure that almost every new home is built with support for “gigabit-speed” (1Gbps) broadband ISP connections “fit for the future” (here), although last year’s COVID-19 lockdown did appear to slow progress on their proposed changes to the Building Regulations (2010).

We should point out that building regulations are a devolved matter, thus any amendments to the Building Regulations 2010 will only apply in England. However, the government has said that they intend to “work closely with the Devolved Administrations” (i.e. Scotland, Wales and N.Ireland) to help them implement this in a consistent way across the UK. Hopefully 2021 produces a little more progress on this front.


UPDATE 12:36pm

Just to clarify, since there seemed to be some disagreement between the parties about the level of DPA / PIA involvement above, but Virgin Media are using Openreach’s Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) on site via their boxes only. However, they are NOT using Openreach’s ducts as they’ve chosen to use their own duct out of OR’s boxes. Meanwhile Hyperoptic are running their fibre through PIA / DPA.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Pezza says:

    Probably the only local service a Barratt will care about as it can help sell houses, doesn’t care about local amenities where their houses are built that’s for sure!

  2. chris conder says:

    daft photo, no way is he fusing that fibre with those thick dirty gloves on…would be wearing surgical gloves.

    1. Declan M says:

      They’re not thick gloves

  3. Luke says:

    Virgin Media will not be utilising OR’s pole or duct network to distribute services

    1. James™ says:

      I think it’s Barratt who are putting in ducts and making all providers use them for unified building

  4. James™ says:

    A bit of a shame not to see City Fibre, But Hyperoptic is a suprise.

    Hopefully more housing developments will adopt something like this going forward.
    I was looking at buying and the builders had Openreach FTTP but VM was getting installed after the build so they’d dig up the street again.

  5. Peter ALLAM says:

    Best Practice? Should’nt the ducting in the photo show the shotest piece, ‘offcut’, at the bottom of the trunking?

  6. John Nolan says:

    See my thoughts on the concept of a Neutral Access Network.

  7. Barry Dowson says:

    So you get fibre to the property. How do you distribute it to each room while maintaining same speed i.e so you don’t have to use wifi. Is there something like a Powerline plugs. I presume they aren’t ‘wiring’ each room with fibre.

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