William Eichler 17 March 2020

Council chiefs welcome drive to ensure new homes come with gigabit-speed broadband

Local authority leaders have welcomed an announcement that the Government will legislate to make sure new-build homes come with gigabit-speed broadband.

The move, announced today by digital secretary Oliver Dowden, will mean developers will be legally required to install high-quality digital infrastructure from the outset, make it a priority as part of the build, and ensure broadband companies are on board before the first brick is laid.

‘This legislation means every new home will be built fit for the future and give people access to world-class broadband speeds from the moment they move in,’ said Mr 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 up the country.’

The Government will amend building regulations to guarantee that all new homes have the right infrastructure to support gigabit broadband.

Housing developers will also be required to work with network operators to install internet speeds of over 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) in new-build homes, up to a cost cap of £2,000 per dwelling.

To make sure developers are incentivised to follow the plans, the Government has worked with operators to secure significant new commitments that they will contribute to the costs of installing gigabit broadband in new-build homes.

Virgin Media will contribute at least £500 and in the case of some larger sites £1,000. Openreach has committed to a combined contribution with developers of £3,400, with a maximum developer contribution of £2,000.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick commented: ‘We are building more new homes than at any time in the last 30 years and helping more people to get onto the ladder. We want to ensure those new homes are high quality and fit for the future.

‘Today’s announcement will deliver internet speeds 200 times faster than you would need to watch an HD film on Netflix.’

The policy applies to all new residential dwellings, including conversions and self-built homes, but excludes renovated buildings, schools, hotels and prisons.

The Government estimates that with an assumed operator contribution of between £500-£1,400 this policy will ensure that currently, gigabit-capable connections will be deployed in 99% of total new build premises.

Responding to the Government’s announcement that all new homes will come with gigabit-speed broadband, the Local Government Association’s (LGA) digital spokesman, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, said: ‘We are pleased that the Government has listened to our calls to ensure all new homes will have the digital infrastructure they need for the 21st century.

‘Digital connectivity is central to thriving communities - with millions of people relying on broadband coverage every day, including businesses and our most vulnerable.’

Cllr Hawthorne added: ‘Councils are best-placed to understand the digital needs of their areas and ensure that local policy, such as planning and highways regulation, is streamlined to help improve connectivity.

‘Councils want to work with Ofcom to ensure mobile coverage is accurate, up-to-date and reflects consumer experience so that communities and businesses across the country are able to access high quality connectivity as part of their daily routine.

‘It is now vital that developers, broadband providers and the Government now work with councils to deliver their ambitious programmes.’

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