New homes boost for full fibre roll-out

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Barratt Developments, Britain’s biggest house builder, has partnered with digital infrastructure provider Openreach to ensure that its ultrafast ‘Full Fibre’ broadband is installed as standard across all of its new build developments.

The move means that all of the c.15,000 new homes that Barratt builds every year will now provide access to a Full Fibre broadband service over Openreach’s nationwide network, from the moment new home owners move in.

Openreach builds and maintains the largest open access network, meaning home owners won’t be restricted to who they can choose to take their broadband service from. Openreach offers the widest range of phone and broadband providers – from the likes of Andrews and Arnold, Aquiss, Ceberus, Zen, and Giganet to big name brands like BT, Sky, TalkTalk, EE and Vodafone – all over one network.

Customers will have access to other competing gigabit capable broadband networks such as Virgin Media and Hyperoptic through Openreach’s national network of underground ducts and overhead poles – which are open to any company looking to extend their network. So far, more than 100 communications providers have signed up to use Openreach’s Ducts and Poles Access product.

The partnership with Barratt builds on Openreach’s existing commitment to ensuring Full Fibre is available to all new build developments, with its scheme offering Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) infrastructure free of charge for new housing development sites of 20 or more properties, when developers register with Openreach, which includes a majority of Barratt sites, and a highly-competitive ‘rate card’ for smaller sites where developers make a contribution towards the fibre infrastructure build. The rate card is based on Developers paying a set contribution for the size of the site and the amount Developers are asked to pay is capped for the very smallest, two and three premise sites.

The scheme has so far proved very successful, with 93 per cent of all plots contracted with Openreach now getting FTTP, with 100 per cent of plots on sites of 20 or more homes getting FTTP and 41 per cent of plots on smaller (two to 19 premise) sites.

Openreach currently build Full Fibre infrastructure to over 200k new homes every year, with 4k new connections every week.

“Like Openreach, Barratt understands the huge benefits of Full Fibre to both buyers and builders alike and the importance of ensuring everybody moving into a new build property can enjoy the advantages of this future-proof technology,” commented Kim Mears, MD, Strategic Infrastructure Development at Openreach. “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.  This has never been more important as we look to help the UK’s economy bounce back more quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic. And there’s strong evidence that points to Full Fibre broadband being able to turbo-charge that process.”

“I hope other housebuilders will now follow Barratt’s lead in making Full Fibre mandatory across their own developments,” she concluded.

“We’re really pleased to be able to offer this new unified service to our customers and Openreach has been integral to that,” added Steven Boyes, chief operating officer at Barratt Developments. “Delivering different full fibre services on a site by site basis can sometimes cause problems for customers, so by coming together to build a unified system with Barratt it will deliver a much better service, benefitting everyone.”

“Particularly now when everyone relies on fast and reliable broadband this new service will mean customers can enjoy their new home even more. A unified service with multiple providers hasn’t been delivered in the housebuilding industry before so it is testament to Openreach for their hard work and vision in helping making this happen. As the country’s leading housebuilder we’re proud to be offering this industry-first to our customers when they need it most.”

The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) has found that a nationwide Full Fibre broadband network would boost UK productivity by £59 billion by 2025 – and updated modelling suggests it could enable nearly one million more people to access employment including over 300,000 carers, nearly 250,000 older workers and 400,000 parents.

The pandemic has accelerated changes in working patterns and, with full fibre, nearly two million more people than previously estimated could also choose to work from home in the long term, reducing transport and housing pressures in big cities and boosting local and rural economies across the country.

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 4.5 million homes and businesses with its Full Fibre network by the end of March 2021, and wants to reach 20 million by the middle of the decade if the right conditions are in place.

Separately, Barratt Developments confirmed partnerships with Openreach, Virgin Media and Hyperoptic to ensure that ultrafast, ultra-reliable gigabit capable broadband is installed as standard across its new developments throughout the UK, suggesting that is leading the market by announcing this industry-first unified communications provider strategy which was widely regarded as being unachievable to deliver.

All new sites that Barratt builds every year will have access to a future-proof broadband service from multiple networks, from the moment new homeowners move in, giving its customers 18 leading ISPs to choose from.

ISPs available to its customers will include: BT, Virgin Media, Hyperoptic, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, EE, Zen, Andrews and Arnold, Aquiss, Cerberus, Fibre Net, Giganet, Orbital Net, Pine Media, Spectrum, Structured, Syscomm and Uno.

The new unified service will ensure its customers can choose between a large selection of different speeds, costs and contractual options to suit their circumstances, from monthly pay-as-you-go contracts to 24 month contracts.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said: “It is our national mission to level up the country with better broadband and a major part of this is ensuring new homes across the UK come with fast and reliable connectivity built in.”

“Barratt’s commitment to a range of Internet packages gives homeowners greater choice so they can shop around for the best deal and take advantage of everything new technology has to offer.”

The agreement comes at a time when people have never been so dependent on ultrafast and reliable broadband with so many people now relying on their connectivity to work, learn and stay entertained at home. The government is aiming for 85 per cent of homes to have access to a gigabit broadband connection by 2025.

“Every customer will now have the greatest choice of broadband speed, reliability, costs and packages at a time when data-hungry activities such as video streaming, home working and learning during the Covid-19 lockdown have never been needed more,” commented Boyes.

“Delivering full fibre services on a site by site basis can cause problems for customers, so by coming together to build a unified approach with Barratt it will deliver a much better service, benefitting everyone. All three providers recognise this and have worked really hard to build the new service with us.”

“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,” added Mears. “This has never been more important as we look to help the UK’s economy bounce back more quickly from the Covid-19 pandemic. And there’s strong evidence that points to full fibre broadband being able to turbo-charge that process. I hope other housebuilders will now follow Barratt’s lead in making full fibre mandatory across their own developments.”

Rob Evans, MD of Network Expansion at Virgin Media, said: “This innovative and exciting partnership between Virgin Media and Barratt Homes will mean that new homeowners will have access to the UK’s fastest widely available broadband from day one of moving into their new home.”

“Our connectivity will provide residents with the ultrafast and reliable broadband services which have never been so important to the way we live our daily lives. It is essential that all new homes have access to the fastest speeds available and we will continue to work with developers across the UK to ensure more homes are connected to such vital services.”

Liam McAvoy, Senior Director of Business Development, Hyperoptic, said: “This is a great example of developer best practice. A full fibre connection digitally future-proofs the property. The experience is seamless, which means you don’t even need to think about your connectivity, whether you are homeworking, virtual learning or streaming. It just sits as the heart of the connected home.”

“As a growing alternative network provider, we are pleased to be part of this ‘trio’ of infrastructure options offered by Barratt. We are committed to differentiating ourselves by ensuring our router equipment is pre-installed and ready for when the home-mover walks through the door – so they can start living their normal connected life straight away. We are also proud to underpin our industry-leading customer support, which is demonstrated by our 5* Trustpilot rating and leading NPS score.”

Richard Tang, Chairman and Founder, Zen Internet, said: “Today marks the beginning of the end for broadband monopolisation of new builds. There are many examples in the past of housebuilders skimping on broadband infrastructure in new builds to save a few pounds, leaving homebuyers with a substandard service. Barratt Homes is a leading example of a housebuilder working effectively to meet the demand for ultrafast connectivity in our homes and acknowledging that fast reliable broadband is (almost) as important as a reliable running water supply. Offering residents a selection of 18+ providers, including Zen Internet, not only highlights the importance of fair consumer choice but places emphasis on how ultrafast broadband availability is a key requirement in the homebuying journey. Especially as an increasing number of city-dwellers relocate to suburban areas and remote working becomes more mainstream.”

 


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