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New-build residents face £20,000 bill for fibre broadband

Wednesday, February 3rd 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Residents of a new-build housing estate have been told to pay £20,000 – or wait two years – if they want fibre broadband.

The situation has come to light following an investigation by Cable.co.uk into the state of broadband on new developments around the country.

Andrew Dickinson, 45, moved into the Moat House Field development in Marston Green, Solihull, with his wife Bridget, 37, and young daughter in May 2014.

He said he was initially led to believe that Virgin Media were providing fibre services to the estate, but instead ended up having to wait six weeks for Openreach to install standard ADSL broadband.

Mr Dickinson, a technical consultant for an IT firm, has struggled with internet speeds of 4Mbps ever since. He said the slow speeds mean no one can stream HD from any type of service, while working from home is “not possible”.

He has contacted developer Persimmon Homes as well as Openreach and Virgin Media in a desperate attempt to get a solution but is yet to receive any kind of positive response.

“Openreach said as Persimmon didn’t install a new cabinet to the estate, the nearest cabinet around 500-700 metres away will never be upgraded to fibre as it’s too small,” he told Cable.co.uk.

“They said the only way to upgrade would be to privately pay £20,000 to get a new cabinet and fibre via the local estate grouping together."

But since many homes on the estate are social housing, that solution is unlikely to work, he added.

“Virgin said that as the developer ignored advances from them, they would have to wait two years before potentially being in a position to install.”

'Frustrating'

In an email to Mr Dickinson, which has been seen by Cable.co.uk, Persimmon said: “Unfortunately we are unable to provide Virgin Media retrospectively on this development.

“Although the roads are yet to be adopted, the council would not accept trenches being dug into their new road.”

To make matters worse, the development isn’t covered by the government fibre rollout for the region, CSW Superfast Broadband, as surrounding streets are served by Virgin Media and the closest cabinet has not been deemed viable for Openreach to upgrade.

Mr Dickinson said: “If developers worked with BT/Virgin they could then market their estates as being with fast broadband which would actually help sell houses, and perhaps allow them to sell with premium prices so would pay for itself,” he said.

“It’s just rather frustrating. If I’d known the truth I would never have moved, and paid more for a property in a fast broadband area.”

Andy Peters, managing director at Persimmon Homes South Midlands, said: “We can confirm that properties at our Moat House Fields development were sold on the basis that the homes would be fitted with a standard BT line.

“We endeavour to make sure customers are fully informed when making their house purchase and are naturally disappointed to hear about Mr Dickinson’s concerns.”

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