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Barratt Homes: Ensuring the homes we build have broadband isn't our problem

By Phil Wilkinson-Jones | Friday, January 1st 2016

Developer Barratt Homes says it is not obliged to provide any broadband services to the properties it builds.

Following Cable.co.uk's report on the lack of broadband in new-build homes yesterday, a customer shared a letter they received from Barratt in response to a complaint about the lack of broadband in their new house.

In the letter, the housebuilder declared it had no obligation to provide broadband services and would not consider any further investigations to upgrade broadband services at one of its developments in Plymouth.

This is despite receiving complaints from residents struggling with slow internet speeds.

Yesterday, Cable.co.uk reported on claims by Labour’s shadow digital minister that the lack of broadband in new-build homes is “symptomatic of the government’s indifference” on the issue.

Chi Onwurah said: “New-build is a huge opportunity to get it right. And to get it right with fibre.

“The incremental cost of laying fibre when you’re putting gas or electricity ducts in the ground is insignificant in comparison to digging up streets, so it’s a huge opportunity.”

But customer Steve Baker laid the blame for his own situation at the feet of developer Barratt, who he said had refused to work with BT Openreach or Virgin.

Mr Baker bought a new-build property on a development called Reflections and The Moorings, built by Barratt and its David Wilson Homes division, in summer 2015.

“As a connected city we were expecting high speed services but are struggling along with speeds of 2Mbps or less,” said Mr Baker.

“Complaints to the developer have proved without merit as they have refused to work with BT Openreach, who quoted £12,500 for a cabinet upgrade, or even with Virgin who would install cable services at their own cost.”

Mr Baker escalated his complaint to the highest level of Barratt’s formal complaints procedure at the end of December and received notice of the company’s “final position” on the matter last week.

In a letter seen by Cable.co.uk, Barratt said it had reviewed correspondence between its Exeter team and Mr Baker, and had taken legal advice to clarify the company’s “contractual position”.

“It is clearly evident that this matter is of priority to you and that you have thoroughly researched the provision of high speed broadband services,” the letter stated.

“I do also appreciate your desire to secure higher broadband speeds than are currently being provided to the development by BT Openreach. I do however fully concur with and support the responses provided to you by… our Exeter Division.

“We do not have an obligation to provide any broadband services and I must confirm that Barratt Homes will not consider any further investigations to upgrade the existing broadband provision to your development, either via BT Openreach or an alternative supplier.”

The Home Builders' Federation, which calls itself the voice of the UK homebuilding industry, has previously told Cable.co.uk that developers are reliant on Openreach to put in broadband infrastructure.

A spokesperson said the HBF would "continue to push to ensure that systems are put in place that will deliver the best level of service – and customer connectivity – possible", but Barratt's response seems to suggest that it is not as keen to press the issue.

Mr Baker isn't the first disillusioned resident of a new-build estate to contact Cable.co.uk.

In December 2014, people living in the Woodilee Village estate in Glasgow said they were struggling with speeds of 2Mbps and in April last year residents of Church Village, Pontypridd, said they had been without any broadband at all for six months.

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