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Millions of new homes to get faster broadband

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
Both tenants and homeowners across the UK are set to get better access to faster broadband, thanks to two new laws.

All new homes built in England must now have a gigabit broadband connection, the fastest internet speed currently available.

The change has come after the government amended the Building Regulations 2010 on 26 December, 2022.

A second new law has also been introduced which means telecoms firms will be able to improve the broadband speeds of the nine million people who live in blocks of flats in the UK.

Gigabit broadband in new build homes

Gigabit broadband is currently available to 72% of the UK, an increase from 6% in 2019, and it will now become a requirement to be included in all new build homes. This means those moving into a new build won’t have to have it installed at a later date.

It is the fastest broadband available and delivers download speeds of up to 1Gbps, the equivalent of 1,000Mbps, according to Uswitch. This is compared to 60Mbps, which is the speed available to the majority of UK homes.

It says these speeds are typically only available in locations with fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), when the connection is completed entirely using fibre-optic cables rather than copper phone lines.

The new law is aimed at tackling the shortfall of homes built without access to a full fibre internet connection, which the government says is currently around 25,300 or 12% of new homes built per year.

Under the updated building rules, developers will be legally required to fit new homes in England with gigabit broadband services. The connection cost will be capped at £2,000 per home for developers and 98% of premises fall within this cap, according to the government.

It says if a developer can’t secure a gigabit connection within the £2,000 cap, they must install the next fastest connection available. In these cases, the infrastructure for a gigabit connection still needs to be installed.

Faster broadband for flats

The introduction of the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Act (TILPA) in England and Wales at the end of 2022 will help those living in flats to access better broadband speeds.

The government says this new law will make it easier for providers to install faster internet connections into flats when landlords ignore requests for access from broadband companies.

Before the law came in, tenants living in the UK’s 480,000 flats and apartments would usually have to wait for a landlord to give permission for installation of a faster broadband connection.

Yet around 40% of requests for access to install connections had received no reply, according to the government.

The new law means broadband providers in England and Wales can seek rights to access a property or shared land if they do not hear back from the person required within 35 days. This can involve going through a court action which will be permitted by broadband operators.

It is now in force and it’s estimated that an extra 2,100 flats will be connected to faster broadband speeds as a result. The law will apply to those in Scotland from the summer.

“Nothing should stop people from seizing better broadband”

Digital infrastructure minister, Julia Lopez, said: “Nothing should stop people from seizing the benefits of better broadband, whether it is an unresponsive landlord or a property developer’s failure to act.

“Thanks to our new laws, millions of renters will no longer be prevented from getting a broadband upgrade due to the silence of their landlord, and those moving into newly built homes can be confident they’ll have access to the fastest speeds available from the day they move in.”

Ernest Doku, broadband expert at Uswitch said: “Shoring up the future of our broadband infrastructure is essential to getting homes connected today as well as keeping up with the demands of multiple household gadgets tomorrow.

“When buyers choose a new-build property, they expect to enjoy their home the moment they get through the door. Going through the upheaval of then having it dug up to install new cables can be both financially and mentally stressful.

“The regulation changes announced today will avoid these situations arising, and also make people living in blocks of flats less reliant on their landlords to receive upgraded broadband.”

However, he added: “Improving connections is only half the battle though. We need to see a greater awareness and availability of fast and affordable broadband across the country enabling those in both rural and urban areas to reap the benefits.”

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