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Broadband in new homes debacle: Residents share their tales of woe

Friday, January 29th 2016 by Ellen Branagh

Angry homeowners on new-build estates across the UK have come out in force following Cable.co.uk’s investigation into poor broadband on new developments.

Our reports about the plight of residents on new developments struggling with poor or non-existent broadband connections have prompted a flood of complaints from people suffering from similar problems.

Earlier this week, shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah told Cable.co.uk that the lack of broadband in new-builds was “symptomatic of the government’s indifference” on the issue.

The following day, we published a letter shared by a disappointed Barratt Homes customer in Plymouth who was told by the developer that it was not obliged to provide any broadband services to the properties it builds.

Since then, customers facing similar situations have contacted us with their own stories.

One, Alec, said: “I too live in a new development in Plymouth, close to a hospital and a university all with access to fibre broadband and yet, three years after moving in, I am still paying through the nose for less than 2Mbps BT broadband.

“This is slower than I had as a student in the same city 10 years ago. BT have a lot to do.”

Another, Matt, is struggling with 1.5Mbps speeds at his Persimmon-built home on the Greenacres estate in Exeter.

He said: “When we moved in (Christmas 2014) we were promised fibre availability but it took over two months just to get a phone line and basic ADSL and were sadly told that BT Openreach had rejected the fibre order as there wasn't any capacity in the cabinet.

“Now over a year later we still can't get fibre and are struggling along with 1.5Mbps speeds along with most of the estate.”

Craig moved into the Hawkhead Village development in Paisley in June 2015 but said the fastest broadband speed he had seen was about 2Mbps.

He said: “The developer, Kier, say they have laid the necessary cabling and it's all down to Openreach.

'Nowhere to be seen'

“Virgin are nowhere to be seen. It's ridiculous that this can happen when, as people in the article have said, the houses around the new builds are served with significantly faster speeds.

“I am not exaggerating when I say that I would not have bought this house, had I known how poor the broadband speeds would be.”

Oli, from Persimmon-built The Pippins in Rugeley, Staffordshire, said the developer was still building hundreds of new homes but BT had apparently 'run out of space' in the nearest fibre cabinet.

He said: "I managed to get fibre installed 18 months ago, but I was one of the last, and new homeowners aren't able to be connected, not only to fibre, but any internet/landline connection."

David Williams said that his mother-in-law had waited nine months to get her landline and a 1Mbps broadband connection in the Parc Derwen estate, built by Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey, in Bridgend.

“The estate had 3-6 month waits, they specifically hid this from people purchasing houses from them.

“Because all of the estates surrounding have full fibre broadband, checks performed before you attempt to get a number say that full fibre is present.

“They failed to upgrade the cabinet that was serving six farm houses when they started work on the 1,000 house estate.”

Mr Williams said developers had taken customers’ money and run, and added: “Broadband infrastructure should be mandated along with water gas and electric at this point.”

Francesca Leslie said she moved on to a new build development six-and-a-half years ago into an area where there is BT fibre, yet is still without fibre and living with speeds of less than 1Mbps.

"There are no alternatives," she said. "It feels like we are living in the dark ages. We have subsequently gone for a mi-fi solution with EE and get over 30Mbps. It's an expensive solution but a solution nonetheless. Only other option is to move."

The Homebuilders' Federation (HBF), which represents the homebuilding industry in England and Wales, has said it is working closely with the government and Openreach to develop working procedures that would lead to the "best possible service levels" for house builders and buyers.

But one Virgin engineer who contacted us laid the blame at the feet of developers.

He said: “I see this all the time, developers will not allow Virgin Media onto new build developments even though Virgin Media are willing to pay the costs involved."

“I get stopped several times a day at work by people who ask when it will be available in their new home however this wont happen due to the developers.”

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