January 2016 saw Cable launch an investigation into the broadband services of new-build homes. It found that, like the complaints suggested, Openreach failed to connect new homes before occupants arrived. The service was also lacking – or simply didn’t exist in the case of one unlucky (forgotten) street.
At the time, Openreach claimed the increase in new-build homes had resulted in people waiting longer than usual to get hold of broadband, and that it would “work hard” to rectify the problem. Since Cable last brought the issue to light, the stream of complaints hasn’t diminished, leading it to take another look at the situation.
Only one in 20 homebuilders could tell Cable “decent service” was available. An additional survey found most of the UK’s top 20 developers couldn’t pinpoint how many houses had guaranteed access to speedy broadband. A few bosses even admitted they weren’t obliged to offer it – highlighted by a letter someone shared with Cable.
Here’s how Barratt responded to complaints about the lack of broadband: “It is evident this is of priority to you and that you have thoroughly researched the provision of high speed broadband services. I also appreciate your desire to secure higher speeds than are currently being provided.
“But we do not have an obligation to provide broadband services and Barratt Homes will not consider any further investigations to upgrade the existing broadband provision to your development. This is the company’s final position on the matter.”
It doesn’t make matters better, Cable explained, that the “new standards already in force by the National House Building Council since January 2017, still makes no mention of internet”. That being the case, Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, said buyers should be told upfront about walking into a broadband dead zone.
“There is an assumption that new-build homes have high speed broadband because they’ve got all the other bells and whistles,” he explained. “National Trading Standards, supervising the sector, said that if a property has poor or non-existent broadband you need to draw people’s attention to it at the earliest opportunity. Everything else is connected, everything is state-of-the-art in new-builds now, and this is something fundamental that’s being overlooked or just being ignored”
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