I am on a new housing development, why don’t I have superfast broadband?

The National Planning Policy Framework does not require broadband infrastructure on new developments. We have worked with our Local Planning Authorities to put a requirement into their Local Plans and Local Infrastructure Plans. We are also briefing local MPs on the need for action to prevent the creation of a new digital divide – whereby existing properties will be connected through this project but new properties will not.

For anyone thinking of moving house the advice is to not just assume that broadband is available, but if this is important to you to check that it will be provided before buying.

To see if anything is planned in your area, either through this project or from commercial providers, use our unique property checker, which shows the currently planned status (down to property level) up to the end of 2019.

You simply need to enter your postcode and you will then see a list of premises and their status. The information was largely derived from the Open Market Review and Public Consultation that we carried out in preparation for the Contract 3 procurement.

If the coverage has been promised by the commercial provider, then we are bound by commercial confidentiality and cannot give further details. However, if the upgrades are planned through the CSW Broadband project then you can see the status on our latest map and on the Rolling 12-Month Plan.

There are a number of reasons why we may not be able to bring broadband to a development, and depending on the age of the properties they could include:

  • It is an unfortunate fact that many developers build new homes but give no consideration to broadband connectivity and do not provide the necessary infrastructure. Rather surprisingly, whilst there is a legal requirement to offer a copper telephone line to new properties, there is no such requirement to offer fibre connectivity. We have been working with the Local Planning Authorities to develop planning policy for this, but until it becomes a national requirement it will be difficult to enforce
  • The roads have not been adopted. When we plan our rollout, infrastructure providers can only go to existing properties where the roads have been adopted. This is because the developers are unwilling to give permission access the roads to put in the necessary infrastructure. It also means that the roads will be brought up to an adoptable standard (i.e. good road surfaces) and then they will need to be dug up again at some future stage to install the fibre network. It may take some considerable time until the roads can be adopted, often until the whole development is completed.
  • Your roads may have been adopted but you may be some distance from the existing networks, which makes it more difficult (and therefore more expensive) to cover your area. In that case your area would be considered to be white on our maps, meaning that it is waiting for additional funding to be made available

It might be worth your while putting pressure on the developers as they are presumably still building houses and will want to sell them.

You may also have heard that Virgin Media is extending its fibre network. To find out whether Virgin Media services are available in your area, you can use the Virgin Media postcode checker.

We have been getting some good reports from people who have moved to mobile broadband. Some are achieving speeds of around 70 Mbps! This technology relies on a good mobile broadband connection so it is important to use the mobile coverage checkers available on mobile broadband supplier websites before committing.

You can access a mobile broadband connection by subscribing to a data plan with your chosen mobile operator; this can usually be done using a mobile device, a dongle, or a 4G router.

When considering this option, it is important to take into consideration your data usage. Searching around for an unlimited data package can pay off, especially if you do a lot of streaming or playing videos on YouTube.

Under Contract 1 BDUK committed to make available over 2Mbps to all properties by 2016. This is through the Better Broadband Voucher Scheme that covers the installation costs of broadband using alternative technologies such as wireless or satellite.

If a community get together they could even pool their vouchers to get a new fibre cabinet installed. Rental and ongoing costs will fall to the user. Mobile connections are not eligible for the scheme.

It is entirely possible for a community to decide to raise funds and employ their own solution.

Before considering a community-funded scheme you should bear in mind that these take time to organise, and require local activists to lead the project. Having said that, it is entirely possible for a community to decide to raise funds and employ their own solution.

You should bear in mind that smaller suppliers do not always have the resilience of the larger companies. If you were to go with your own solution and employed a small company, then you could be facing sustainability issues further down the line.

One final consideration is whether your chosen solution will offer a wholesale network. This means that any Internet Service Provider can use the network to provide services to its customers.

By offering a range of providers the idea is that there will be competition which will lead to a choice of packages and a range of price-points.

You will not have that with a single-supplier network. You could, of course, choose to pay Openreach, or another major provider, to upgrade the infrastructure in your area, but the costs are likely to be significant. Should you choose to follow this route then you may want to take a look at the Community Fibre Partnerships website.

Of course, any community solution will need to be paid for! A good place to start is the Government’s Gigabit Voucher Scheme. Gigabit vouchers can be used by small and medium-sized businesses and the local communities surrounding them, to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection.

One gigabit is the same as 1,000 megabits – so it’s a big leap forward in connection speeds that could benefit you and your business into the future.

Businesses can claim up to £3,000 against the cost of connection either individually or as part of a group project. Residents can benefit from the scheme as part of a group project, which also includes businesses, and can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £500 per residential premise.

Vouchers can be aggregated so that if, for example, a village wanted to upgrade its connectivity then as long as there are businesses involved the vouchers can be pooled together to form one project covering the entire area. This would ensure best value for all concerned and would reduce costs overall.

To set up a local project it would be necessary to go through a supplier (as with single user vouchers). It is expected that the combined value of vouchers claimed by businesses in a scheme will be greater than the combined value of the residential vouchers. For the purpose of the scheme, a business could be someone operating from home or, potentially, working from home.

Posted in: Broadband in General