All new homes in England could get gigabit connections

24 December 2021, 13:54   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Government is consulting on plans that would make it obligatory for developers to ensure new homes are built with gigabit-capable broadband.

It would mean that developers in England would have to ensure infrastructure for gigabit-capable broadband is provided at all new build developments.

Yet there would be a cost cap per property and an operator could decline to provide a broadband connection for the home.

The consultation on amendments to building regulations is underway and will close in February 2022.

fibre broadband optics

Gigabit infrastructure

Amendments to the Building Regulations would ensure home developers are legally required to install high-quality digital infrastructure and make it a priority of the build. Broadband companies would also need to be on board ahead of development beginning.

The amendments would also include legislation to:

  • Ensure a gigabit-capable connection in a new build is installed up to a cap of £2,000 per home
  • If a gigabit-capable connection isn't possible under the price cap, the next fastest broadband connection should be installed (as long as it's underneath the price cap)

The hope is that these rules will increase the 93% of new build properties in England with an excellent broadband option up towards the 100% mark.

However, if these proposals sound familiar, it's because they were first discussed in March 2020 and have been hugely delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.


The cap cost in the proposals immediately catches the eye and means that developers and broadband companies have a couple of loopholes if costs get too high.

A £2,000 cap on each dwelling could result in some rural new builds missing out on gigabit-capable connections and the possibility of getting the 'next best' broadband connection is problematic too.

For example, if even installing a fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband connection would be too expensive for a new build (it would cost more than the £2,000 cap), customers could end up just getting a connection that meets the universal service obligation of 10Mb.

The USO itself has caveats, though, with a cap of £3,400 on each dwelling, however recent directions from Ofcom on the quotation system for the USO have reminded BT to take into account the probably that 70% of properties in a given area will sign up to the new broadband connection.

It's also important to note that the Building Regulations (2010) only apply to England and there are separate rules in place for the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

New builds

Gigabit capable coverage on new build properties has increased significantly in recent years, with around 93% of new build homes able to access fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband.

This is a huge increase from the just over 60% recorded in 2017 and it's partly due to the legislative mechanisms that already exist.

For example, since 2017 all newly constructed buildings have needed to come equipped with digital infrastructure up to network termination points that is ready for developers and ISPs to connect to - if they want to.

Plus, we've already seen ISPs connect directly with developers following Virgin Media's 2016 deal with the Home Builders Federation (HBF) to get more broadband into new build homes.

There's more emphasis in this new secondary legislation on ensuring that broadband providers are already signed up and there is a tangible cost cap in place to ensure the build doesn't cost ISPs too much.

Hopefully, this will plug the gaps in new build infrastructure and allow new homeowners and tenants to access gigabit capable broadband as soon as they move in.

With more homes being passed by major broadband networks every week, the chances of getting a FTTP connection when you move into a new place are growing.

Which broadband deals are available in your area?

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