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Openreach extends free full fibre offer

January 14, 2020

By Colin Mann

Thousands more new-build homes are in line for a broadband boost as UK digital infrastructure provider Openreach is extending the reach of its scheme offering Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) installation free of charge for new housing developments.

Developers building smaller new sites of just 20 or more properties are now eligible to have full fibre connectivity built across their sites at no cost when they register with Openreach.

More than 13,000 new homes across around 600 small housing developments per annum stand to benefit from being connected to the cutting edge technology – which provides a faster, more stable service that’s ideal for families, home workers and small businesses.

The new threshold extends the reach of the company’s existing scheme to install FTTP free of charge to all new housing developments from 30 or more homes. The programme has so far proved very successful with 99 per cent of plots on sites of 30 or more homes registering for future-proofed FTTP.

Since launching in 2016, Openreach has connected 354k new build homes with full fibre technology. This financial year alone the company has built full fibre to 125k new build premises, reaching around 3.5k new premises with full fibre every week, and is on target to reach 175k by the end of the fiscal year in April.

By dropping the threshold for free eligibility from 30 to 20 homes, Openreach plans to drive take up of full fibre by developers on these smaller developments from its current level of 45 per cent to 100 per cent.

In addition, Openreach has capped the amount UK house builders contribute if they ask Openreach to build full fibre to smaller-scale developments of just two and three premises – to help encourage further full fibre take-up. This is part of a revised rate card for developers – enabling them to upgrade broadband connectivity for new developments to full fibre by paying a set contribution for the size of the site.

The lower threshold for free FTTP for sites with 20 or more plots will take effect on April 1st 2020.

“Our existing offer already provides huge benefits to both buyers and builders alike, but we want to go further and make sure everybody moving into a new build property can enjoy the advantages of Full Fibre broadband.

“The UK is a world leader in digital infrastructure and services today, but as the digital revolution continues at an ever increasing pace, and our demand for data grows, we need to make sure this country stays ahead of the curve by building fast, reliable networks that cater for all the activities we’ll want to do online in the decades ahead.

“We hope these new measures will provide the necessary incentive for housebuilders to adopt this future-proof technology across smaller developments so that no-one’s left behind.

“We welcome the government’s intention – outlined in the Queen’s Speech – to amend legislation so that all new build homes are required to have the infrastructure to support gigabit-capable connections, and we will work closely with government and housebuilders on how best to deliver this.”

Kieran Walker, Technical Director for the Home Builders Federation (HBF) commented: “The HBF and its membership welcome this change to Openreach’s fibre offering and fully support Openreach in its strategic objective of providing full FTTP to all new dwellings.

“The customer of today expects, in line with other utility suppliers to be provided with fast, reliable, uninterrupted service upon receiving the keys to their new home. This further step improvement will assist housebuilders in ensuring their customers overall journey is positive one.

“This latest offering from Openreach allows housebuilders to further integrate FTTP to new developments that previously may have been financially constrained and is a demonstration of Openreach’s commitment to provide FTTP to all new dwellings.”

According to a London School of Economics  & Political Science study of British homebuyers, a good broadband connection now tops off-street parking and access to local amenities as one of the vital deciding factors for people buying a new house. The study also finds that one in ten buyers have walked away from properties with poor Internet connection and that broadband is generally connected even before gas. Home owners in London are willing to pay up to 3 per cent above the market price for properties in areas offering very fast broadband speeds.

Providing full fibre to new homes is an important part of Openreach’s commitment to invest in faster, more reliable broadband technology through its new ‘Fibre First’ strategy. The company is on track to reach 4 million homes and businesses with its Full Fibre network by the end of March 2021, and wants to reach 15 million by the middle of the decade if the right conditions are in place.

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