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Government sets sights on faster broadband for new-build homes

Tuesday, January 6th 2015 by Hannah Langston

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has published guidance outlining how developers and ISPs should work together to ensure new properties are connected to superfast broadband.

The move follows reports of residents facing delays of up to 10 weeks for Openreach phone lines to be connected in housing estates across the UK.

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.

Dave Mitchell of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) hopes it will improve the current disputes between developers and ISPs: “The HBF has had problems with utility companies – connections are not there when you want them.

“The charter sees KPIs attached to services they provide to us,” he told Cable.co.uk.

It includes a voluntary broadband connectivity rating, which will be explored for new and existing buildings outlining the speeds consumers can expect. According to the government, “this will assist with property marketing and help consumers make better informed decisions when buying or renting a new home”.

However, Mr Mitchell disagrees with broadband speeds being advertised to consumers.

“If I’m building a house, I can’t fix it if the speed isn’t there,” he said.

Commenting on the guidelines, a spokesperson for Openreach said it was: “working closely with the HBF and other industry players to find measures that can speed up and simplify the installation of high speed fibre broadband to new developments”.

“We hope to be in a position to deliver fibre broadband to all new developments in the coming years, so the guidance published today is an important step towards achieving that.”

A Virgin Media spokesperson said it: "worked closely with the government and the Home Builders Federation to develop the telecoms standards in the new utilities charter".

“Superfast broadband availability is an increasingly important consideration for home buyers and we welcome progress that will help developers and telecoms providers to consistently connect new homes in time for when people move in.”

According to the HBF, the government has been holding quarterly meetings with house builders and phone/broadband providers including Openreach and Virgin Media since early last year to ensure broadband is delivered to 95% of homes by 2017.

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