Access to ultrafast broadband is now almost as important to new home buyers as running water and electricity. So says Rob Perrins, Chief Executive of UK property developer the Berkeley Group. Perrins reckons owners expect broadband to be available from the day they move in, and believes the company would risk losing buyers if new properties didn’t offer high-speed connectivity.
Berkeley is partnering with Openreach in a UK nationwide scheme to connect all sizeable new housing developments in the UK with ‘full-fibre’ Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) technology. Launched in February last year, 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 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’s building, and will provide the technology to all future homes. “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,” remarks Perrins.
Many UK developers, including Berkeley, are now taking the option of self-installing Openreach equipment to help cut out delays and to be able offer service when customers move in to their properties.
Openreach plans to make ultrafast broadband speeds available to up to 12 million homes and businesses by the end of 2020. The provision of FTTP infrastructure for free to all new housing developments with 30 or more homes 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.