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BT: We'll get fibre broadband to all new housing developments

Wednesday, September 23rd 2015 by Ellen Branagh

The days of new-build homes being left without broadband could soon be over, after BT pledged to connect all new developments to fibre.

Openreach CEO Joe Garner said its ambition is to make sure that all new developments get a fibre connection.

This will be funded by BT where possible, but in some situations the company will work with developers to ‘co-fund’ fibre installation, he said.

Mr Garner was speaking at the Delivering Britain’s Digital Future conference, at which BT bosses outlined the company’s vision for the future.

Cable.co.uk has reported previously on several cases where new-build homes have been left without broadband or landlines for months.

In an open letter to council leaders in March, digital minister Ed Vaizey and then housing minister Brandon Lewis said when considering planning applications they should ensure “wherever possible” that commercial and residential new builds can access superfast broadband.

And in June, Hampshire County Council asked the government to give councils legal powers to insist that new-build homes have access to high speed broadband.

Speaking at yesterday’s conference in London, Mr Garner said: “As new property developments are built it’s our ambition to make sure that all have a fibre solution from Openreach.

“Where we can we will fund this entirely but where it’s not affordable we want to work with developers to co-fund,” he added.

Mr Garner said while Openreach had suffered from a “backlog” of new developments in which to install fibre, the situation was improving.

“We have acknowledged that we had a backlog of new developments as the property market grew,” he told Cable.co.uk.

'Tremendous progress'

“I’m pleased to say that we have made tremendous progress on that.”

A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation (HBF), which represents the homebuilding industry in England and Wales, said: “HBF is working closely with government and Openreach to develop working procedures that will result in the best possible service levels for house builders and then ultimately the buyers of new build homes.

“The industry is reliant on Openreach to connect new build sites and we will continue to push to ensure that systems are put in place that will deliver the best level of service – and customer connectivity – possible.”

Some councils have already brought in policies requiring new-build houses to have access to superfast broadband.

All new homes built in the Cheltenham area will have to have access to the service following a motion put forward by a councillor earlier this year.

In January, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published a code of practice outlining how developers and ISPs should work together to ensure new properties are connected to superfast broadband.

The utility charter – which provides best practice guidance on gas, electricity, water and telephone/broadband installations – dictates that a clear schedule is put in place (and adhered to) stating the time it will take to connect new homes to these utilities.

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