UK new home buyers: Ultrafast broadband a ‘must have’

The Berkeley Group – one of the UK’s best-known developers of new homes – says access to ultrafast broadband is now almost as important to new home buyers as running water and electricity.

According to Berkeley’s Chief Executive, Rob Perrins, owners expect it to be available from the day they move in and the company would risk losing buyers if new properties didn’t offer high-speed connectivity.

Berkeley is partnering with Openreach – the former infrastructure arm of BT – in a nationwide scheme to connect all sizeable new housing developments in the UK with ‘full-fibre’ Fibre-to-the-Premises technology (FTTP). Launched in February 2016, the scheme was initially free for developments of 250 homes or more, then in May 2016 Openreach reduced it to 100 homes, and from November it was reduced further to just 30 homes.

So far, Openreach has worked with developers to provide ultrafast broadband to more than 586,000 premises across 2,400 developments registered with Openreach to benefit from a free FTTP infrastructure, with many more expected to join over the coming months.

This year, Berkeley Group has adopted ‘full fibre’ across almost every development it is building and will ensure that this technology is provided to all future homes, to meet increasing customer demands.

“For new home buyers, high speed broadband has almost become a given now – it is like the power steering on a car – no one asks whether the car they’re buying has it anymore,” advised Perrin.

“If we weren’t able to offer fibre, I think there would be the real prospect of some people walking away from property sales. It is definitely a factor in the decision-making process for people buying new homes.”

“More and more people are consuming ever more bandwidth – with an increasing use of streaming music services, things like Netflix, Amazon Prime and other video content. And by installing FTTP or ‘ultrafast’ we can assure customers that they’ll have capacity for their future needs. The fact that Openreach’s network is open to competition is also a significant factor – people want a choice of broadband provider,” he suggested.

Many developers, including Berkeley, are now taking the option of self-installing Openreach equipment to help cut out delays and ensure service provision for when customers move in.

“We’re investing heavily in ultrafast broadband because we’re committed to giving the UK a first class network, capable of delivering the very latest communication services for households and businesses,” commented Kim Mears, managing director of Infrastructure Delivery at Openreach.

“We know that people are passionate about the speed and reliability of the broadband service that their communication provider can offer them, and for some the availability of ultrafast speeds will strongly influence their decision on which new property to buy.”

As part of its plans to make ultrafast broadband speeds available to up to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020 – Openreach is now building FTTP infrastructure for free to all new housing developments with 30 or more homes. This is dependent on developers registering their site with Openreach and working together early in the building process. Openreach has promised to connect new homes within nine months of contracting with a developer.

Any developments with two or more homes which already have access to the company’s existing or planned fibre infrastructure, will be either funded entirely by Openreach or with the help of developer co-funding where that’s needed.

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