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New-build homes to get broadband quality certification

Broadband connectivity rating firm WiredScore is offering its full-fibre certifications to residential property developers and landlords for the first time

WiredScore, a broadband connectivity rating and certification company specialising in commercial property, has extended its rating scheme to include new-build residential developments in the UK for the first time.

New-build homes have been the subject of multiple interventions to boost availability and uptake of full-fibre – or fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) – broadband services because it is theoretically much easier for developers of new-build homes to “bake in” full-fibre connections from the start.

But in spite of special offers and discounts for developers from the likes of Openreach, and the possibility of legal interventions by the government, there are still a great number of new homes being built in the UK that do not have future-proof connectivity installed.

Some of this stems from a reluctance by building owners and landlords to invest, and some from a lack of understanding of the benefits of world-class broadband services – both aspects that WiredScore aims to address.

The firm said its newly introduced rating scheme for rental properties will ensure “best-in-class renter experience” by helping landlords to navigate the “complicated world of in-building technology”, building on the success of its commercial real estate certifications, which have affected more than six million office workers to date.

“Over the past decade, the demand on connectivity infrastructure and consumption of its services have grown exponentially,” said Will Newton, president and EMEA managing director of WiredScore. “While some landlords have continued to invest in their properties’ connectivity levels, there is an increasingly great divide in standards – which can significantly impact the in-home experience.

“The residential community and consumers alike have struggled to understand and articulate the connectivity levels of properties. With the launch of WiredScore Home, we hope to empower landlords to better communicate the great investments they are making and help consumers to make more informed decisions.”

WiredScore’s domestic certification will have four levels, ranging from Certified to Platinum, designed to support developers through their projects, helping them to understand how to implement full-fibre during the design stage and reducing the need for expensive retrofitting work further down the line.

It will also help landlords to identify and fix issues in existing buildings that could hurt their future value and rental income.

A number of large property firms have committed to back the certification, including Legal & General, Patrizia, Long Harbour, Town Centre Securities, Argent, Ask Real Estate, Richardson and LaSalle.

Dave Butler, chief executive of the UK Apartment Association, said: “High-quality digital connectivity is a critical requirement of the modern-day renter. Build-to-rent landlords in particular have been setting out to fix this problem and provide a better service.

“To achieve this, they need to know that the buildings they are investing in can provide for renters today, and also deliver the technology that renters will be using tomorrow. WiredScore’s rating scheme is a welcome development in the build-to-rent market and will help set the standard for best-in-class digital infrastructure.”

Read more about full-fibre

According to research commissioned by WiredScore and the HomeOwners Alliance, and carried out by Opinium, the vast majority of both renters and homeowners still face major connectivity issues and frequent broadband outages, with people using an average of 2.5GB of additional mobile network data every month to compensate for poor broadband, at a total cost of £2.2bn.

More than a quarter of the 2,000 adults polled for the report Poor foundations: the state of UK residential connectivity, which was specially commissioned to mark the launch of the residential scheme, said they would not have moved into their homes in the first place if they had known about the connectivity issues they would face.

A separate study of developers and landlords for the same report, carried out by Censuswide, found clear recognition of the benefits of including full-fibre broadband connections. Two-thirds of developers said including full-fibre meant they could charge more rent for their properties, more than half said it meant tenants were inclined to stay longer, and two-fifths said they saw increased demand for properties that had access to it.

The survey also found that developers and landlords were increasingly awake to the need to incorporate full-fibre into their properties, with 75% saying some of their current projects would have it, and 19% saying all would. If true, this would result in a significant boost to the current number of properties able to access full-fibre.

Some respondents also said they were exploring new building materials and techniques, because many traditional building materials hinder mobile network coverage. More than half said they were now conducting radio frequency (RF) surveys to understand this better, and were exploring technologies such as small cells to boost it.

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