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Government responds to crucial EU broadband ruling on new-build housing

Friday, May 16th 2014 by Hannah Langston

All new buildings and renovated premises must be “high speed ready” from 1 January 2017, following a new directive from the EU.

The directive aims to reduce the cost of rolling out high-speed broadband by making it easier for telecoms providers to access utility infrastructure.

This means telecoms operators will have the right to access any utility’s infrastructure, including electricity and water company’s networks, for the purpose of broadband installation.

A Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesperson told Cable.co.uk: “The directive introduces a process and timeline for infrastructure owners to respond to reasonable requests for infrastructure sharing.

“It also sets out grounds for refusal such as technical suitability, availability of space, safety, public health and network security.”

DCMS oversees the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project, which aims to deliver fibre optic broadband to 95% of homes by 2017. The final 5% is made up mostly of rural properties, for which infrastructure can be sparse.

The UK, which abstained from the vote, must adopt national provisions to comply with the new directive by 1 January 2016, and the new measures must be applied from 1 July 2016.

The EU commission estimates digging up roads to lay fibre cables accounts for 80% of the cost of building high-speed broadband networks. The changes outlined in the directive are predicted to save 40 to 60 billion euros and a 30% reduction in expected EU costs.

The directive will apply to building permits submitted after 31 December 2016, but developers may have to wait for the British Parliament to define what precise permits the rules refer to.

The UK will be able to exempt developers from the obligations where the cost of compliance would be disproportionate, or if the building is a special type of building, such as a monument or military structure.

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