UK government reveals next step in plans for gigabit broadband in new-build homes

Latest part of programme to accelerate gigabit broadband across the UK will see it included in new-build homes

The UK government has announced a consultation on proposals for changes to building regulations to ensure new homes have next-generation gigabit broadband installed as standard practice.

The decision to amend building regulations to make sure new-build homes come with gigabit broadband was first announced in March 2020.

The aim was to legislate to make sure new-build homes come with gigabit-speed broadband fit for the future. At the time, the government calculated that one in five new-build homes were being built without gigabit-speed connections, mostly in smaller developments, where the cost could be higher or network operators did not have the time they needed to build in connections before completion.

Explaining the move, the government said around one in 10 new-build homes were still being built without gigabit connections, mostly in smaller developments, where the cost can be higher or broadband companies have not had the time needed to install connections before houses are completed.

The changes to the law will mean home developers will be legally required to build gigabit broadband into new homes in England and make it a priority as part of building work. They will also need to bring broadband network operators on board to consider gigabit broadband installation when construction plans are submitted to local councils. 

The UK government believes such measures will give more people access to future-proof internet connections and reduce the need for costly and disruptive work to retrospectively install them in homes. They represent another significant step in the government’s plan to level-up the UK and accelerate the nationwide roll-out of world-class broadband.

“We are moving rapidly in our national mission to make sure everyone can benefit from faster gigabit-speed broadband. National coverage has jumped from 6% to 65% in just two years,” said UK digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez. “The law changes we are consulting on today will help us go further and faster to make our homes fit for the future with the infrastructure people need to take advantage of new technologies in the coming decades.”

Building gigabit-enabled homes has been on the agenda of the house-building community throughout 2021. In January 2021, Britain’s biggest house builder, Barratt Developments, announced that it would ensure full-fibre broadband would be installed as standard across all its new-build developments.

Providing further impetus to the UK’s growing gigabit network, the builder’s move meant the 15,000-odd new homes that it builds each year would gain access to gigabit-capable broadband from the moment new homeowners move in.

Leading partners in the programme include BT broadband provision division Openreach, Virgin Media and Hyperoptic. The majority of homeowners have a choice of 18 leading internet service providers from which to choose gigabit broadband.

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