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Home Builders Federation report 10-week delays in BT line connections

Tuesday, September 2nd 2014 by Hannah Langston

Openreach is taking up to 7-10 weeks to activate BT phone lines on new-build estates, according to a leading consortium of UK developers.

Speaking exclusively to Cable.co.uk, Dave Mitchell, technical director at the Home Builders Federation said, “We are finding in some cases it takes 7-10 weeks before a telephone line is connected”.

“I know of two developers that have given purchasers mobile phones because they knew the phone line wouldn’t be available straight away.”

Although there is no statutory requirement to install phone lines in new properties, Mr Mitchell told us putting in phone and broadband lines was a “no brainer”.

According to a developers guide on the Openreach website, companies can contact the network provider during a build and request design plans for the infrastructure layout. Openreach provides the materials for the developers to lay the ducts at the property and signs off the work if completed to the required standards. Both Openreach and Virgin Media pay developers for installing their infrastructure.

However, Mr Mitchell has reported that not all lines are connected in time for the completion of the first home on an estate. “If they (Openreach) can’t guarantee that developers can get it in on time we get it in the neck from customers,” he told us.

“There’s a degree of frustration from house builders. But we don’t know what else we can do. We’re already putting pressure on”.

Mr Mitchell told us the government has been holding quarterly meetings with house builders and phone/broadband providers including Openreach and Virgin Media to ensure broadband is delivered to 95% of homes by 2017. The HBF use the meetings to inform Openreach of any connection problems on new developments.

“We have a good relationship with Openreach, better than it has been in the past. They’ve got a new CEO who is working his socks off but he’s got a big mountain to climb,” he added.

Responding to Mr Mitchell’s comments, an Openreach spokesperson told us, “Openreach has a specific ‘new sites’ team which is dedicated to connecting new developments across the UK to our open access network.

“The team works hard to avoid any situation where a resident might move into their home without lines already installed, but we can sometimes encounter obstacles which affect our ability to do that. These include planning procedures, the local infrastructure, the amount of civil engineering work needed and any wayleaves required to work on third party property or land.

“For these reasons, we encourage developers to work with us from the very outset of their project so that our engineers can plan, design and build the network effectively and on-time”.

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