Improved deal should mean superfast broadband for new build premises
The surprise news of the week is a new deal that should bring an end to the days of buying a new home and being stuck with ADSL type speeds. The DCMS announcement is a little unclear in its wording and we have waited until getting a bit more detail from Openreach before running with the news.
The first part that needs to be addressed is that while the press announcement may make it sound like builders and developers only have Openreach as a choice, the new deal does not preclude the competing operators like IFNL, Virgin Media and Hyperoptic and others from being chased by developers before building work starts to strike a deal. This deal is very much voluntary, but any developer who does not engage with Openreach or another supplier is likely to find lots of people not buying the homes. Perhaps one reason that DCMS has concentrated on Openreach is that invariably when there are complaints about problems with slow broadband on new estates everyone blames Openreach or BT.
"This is an important step towards bringing fibre broadband to as many new build properties as possible.
We recognise that high speed broadband connectivity is a major factor for homeowners when deciding to buy a house. That’s why we’re offering to deliver fibre to all new build developments either for free or as a co-funded model.
With the support of the HBF (Home Builders Federation) we’ve delivered a series of measures to give developers greater clarity, choice and more funding. Today’s announcement underlines Openreach’s commitment to further extend its fibre network – which reaches more than 24m premises – to benefit even more communities across the country.Clive Selley, CEO Openreach
The new deal will very much rely on developers liaising with Openreach at least nine months ahead of the expected date for the first people to move in, and what Openreach will offer will vary according to the size of the development. In cases where developers are asked to co-fund a superfast solution and the developer turns this down it is very likely that ADSL/ADSL2+ speeds will be all that is supplied, i.e. the agreement is not a build a house anywhere in the UK and Openreach guarantee to deliver superfast broadband at any cost.
So while we have no actual indications of the costs to developers, we have some detail we can share namely:
- The scheme is voluntary for developers, but if co-funding is needed to bring fibre based broadband a development and no agreement is reached, Openreach will default to copper based connectivity.
- For new developments of under 100 premises there should be no charge if already inside the existing fibre footprint. The issue of superfast speeds is a little woolly, so it may be that there is an option for guaranteed superfast speeds with some co-funding, or rely on existing infrastructure and have part of the a development superfast and others in the 10 to 24 Mbps range.
- For developments of over 100 premises due to the amount of new infrastructure needed a variable amount of co-funding will be needed, FTTC and FTTP will be offered at the same cost on the rate card.
- For developments of over 250 premises, there will be no charge, as we presume the scale is getting into the commercially viable area on its own and FTTP will be the preferred solution.
So hopefully with the new rate card that will outline the various options available and an online planning tool developers will look to embrace broadband with the same level of importance they give to dressing the show homes. The situation for the competing FTTH operators may be a bit harder as Openreach has upped its game but given the pressure from the public and MP's this had to be expected.
With better connectivity options for new builds available and 1 million premises to be built as promised by the Government by 2020 we will soon start to find out if things are changing and how things will work on complex large developments which have multiple developers and may deliver 500 premises over a four year period in batches of 50.
Has anyone categorically promised superfast broadband for every new home built by 2020, alas no, but hopefully these changes will make it a lot rarer to find new homes with bad broadband in a year or two.