Britain’s biggest house builder, Barratt Developments, is to ensure that full-fibre broadband is installed as standard across all its new-build developments.
Providing further impetus to the UK’s growing gigabit network, the builder’s move means that the 15,000-odd new homes that it builds each year will gain access to gigabit-capable broadband from the moment new homeowners move in. Barratt says it is leading the market by announcing this industry-first unified communications provider strategy.
Leading partners in the programme include BT broadband provision division Openreach, Virgin Media and Hyperoptic. This means that bar a small number of sites where it may take longer for services to be available, homeowners will have a choice of 18 leading ISPs from which to choose gigabit broadband.
The list of 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.
“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,” said Barratt Developments chief operating officer Steven Boyes.
“Delivering full-fibre services on a site-by-site basis can cause problems for customers, so coming together to build a unified approach with Barratt will deliver a much better service, benefiting 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.”
Openreach said it currently builds full-fibre infrastructure to more than 200,000 new homes every year, with about 4,000 new connections every week. It said the partnership with Barratt will extend its 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.
This includes a majority of Barratt sites and what Openreach calls a “highly competitive rate card” for smaller sites where developers make a contribution towards the fibre infrastructure build. Openreach says that so far, its scheme has seen 93% of all plots contracted with now getting FTTP, with all plots on sites of 20 or more homes getting FTTP and 41% of plots on smaller, two to 19-premise sites.
“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,” said Kim Mears, Openreach MD of strategic infrastructure development.
“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 turbocharge that process.”
Virgin Media also partners with a range of UK house builders to connect new homes in developments across the country. At the same time, the operator is expanding its network to bring ultra-fast connectivity to hundreds of thousands more homes each year as part of its Project Lightning network expansion programme.
Rob Evans, managing director of network expansion at Virgin Media, said the proposed connectivity in the Barratt project would provide residents with ultra-fast and reliable broadband services that have “never been so important”. He added: “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.”