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Government admits: New-build homebuyers expect broadband

Friday, January 29th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The government says it is “working closely with industry” to address the lack of decent broadband in new-build homes.

Responding to Cable.co.uk’s investigation into the poor or non-existent connections on new developments, a spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said: “Connectivity is something home buyers expect when buying a new build.

“Government is working closely with industry to address this and we expect to make an announcement on further progress soon.”

In March last year, digital minister Ed Vaizey and then housing minister Brandon Lewis wrote an open letter to council leaders asking local authorities to ensure “where possible” that planning applications include access to 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.

Earlier this week, we reported on shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah's comments that the lack of broadband in new-builds was “symptomatic of the government’s indifference” on the issue.

Ms Onwurah, herself a former telecoms engineer, urged the government to give more guidance to homebuilders and said other countries manage “to get it right” by using shared ducting for utilities.

She said BT CEO Gavin Patterson had told her that Openreach was leading on new-build fibre.

His comments to the Labour MP echoed outgoing Openreach CEO Joe Garner’s pledge to BT’s Delivering Digital Future conference that its ambition was to make sure that all new developments get a fibre connection.

Mr Garner, speaking to Cable.co.uk at the Delivering Britain’s Digital Future conference in September, 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.”

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. I’m pleased to say we have made tremendous progress on that,” he said.

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