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Openreach offers free FTTP broadband to more new-build homes

Friday, September 23rd 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Openreach is offering FTTP (fibre to the premises) broadband to all new-build developments of 30 or more homes, free of charge.

The BT-owned infrastructure company previously offered free connections to larger developments but will lower its threshold in November.

The move is the latest attempt to improve the service received by new-build residents, who are often left struggling with poor or non-existent broadband connections.

Chief executive Clive Selley said 90% of new homes should now be able to access FTTP without any cost to the developer.

He said take-up of FTTP by developers has so far been “in line with our expectations” but admitted that some need more convincing than others.

“There’s a bit of an education process in this,” he told Cable.co.uk.

“So you’ve got to educate the builders in the advantages of an all-fibre infrastructure. Some of them don’t understand the concept of it so you’ve got to talk to them about it.

“The penny will drop increasingly with the developers, they’ll realise that it’s a way of adding value to the housing that they’re building, they will increasingly get that point.

“What we see is increasing appetite for FTTP and we’ll just keep driving the adoption curve up.”

Property expert Kate Faulkner, managing director of propertychecklists.co.uk, is surprised developers aren’t placing more importance on broadband.

“From a landlord’s perspective, this is something that those who provide rooms know is really essential,” she said.

Engaging with developers

“I expect the problem is that developers aren’t being asked for it and buyers aren’t checking/choosing based on [the availability of] broadband, or it would be being done.”

Of all the ‘new site’ orders received since May, Openreach says 64% will get FTTP. Of the orders for sites with more than 100 homes, 98% will get FTTP.

Mr Selley said Openreach has the measures in place to reach even more homes.

“We’ve now got a team that engages with developers and talks to them in advance about the infrastructure options that they have and places the emphasis on FTTP for the larger developers.

“What we were doing was only targeting the larger developments, now we’re targeting any from 30 homes upwards.”

He added that Openreach is still keen to work with developments of fewer than 30 homes “on how they might share part of the cost” of building FTTP infrastructure.

Virgin Media has also been making it easier for homebuilders to install fibre infrastructure on new developments.

The company unveiled a partnership with the Home Builders Federation (HBF) in June and, like Openreach, has created a dedicated portal on its website for new sites.

It has since announced an agreement with Redrow Homes that will see an initial 13,000 homes given access to ultrafast speeds.

Virgin’s chief operating officer Paul Buttery said: “With our network growing at a faster pace than ever, the more demand we get from developers, the more we can do to support them.

“Redrow is among the first homebuilders to benefit from working with Virgin Media at scale and we look forward to our future together.”

A spokesperson for the HBF, whose members deliver about 80% of the homes built each year, said: "High speed broadband provision is a key requirement for today’s new home buyers and we welcome moves to ensure more builders and sites have access to the fastest possible fibre connections.

"We are committed to continuing to work with Openreach to deliver further improvements to ensure more builders and customers can benefit from 21st century connectivity.

“Developers now clearly recognise the importance of high quality broadband provision. There is thus a huge amount of work going on with the service providers, upon whom the industry is reliant, to develop processes that ensure the best quality service is provided for customers from the day they move in.”

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