broadband fibre optic cables

Updated rules for new home builders will mandate gigabit broadband infrastructure

The government has finally launched a consultation on proposals to make it mandatory for all new homes to have next-generation gigabit broadband installed as standard practice.

Currently, around 93 per cent of new builds are already being constructed with fibre-to-the-premises infrastructure. But the remainder are still being built without gigabit connections as developers seek to avoid the additional expenses incurred.

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.

These measures form part of the government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme, which aims to fulfil a manifesto pledge of broad gigabit internet rollout through the UK.

Gigabit broadband is capable of download speeds of 1,000 megabits or one gigabit per second. It will allow people to more easily work at home following the broad shift towards this brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Digital infrastructure minister Julia Lopez said: “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 per cent to 65 per cent in just two years.

“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 will need to take advantage of new technologies in the coming decades.”

Building safety minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh said: “Fast and reliable broadband will help owners of new homes throughout the country to live and work more flexibly and will help to support social inclusion and growth.”

The government said it would provide some financial support for certain network operators who have made commitments to contribute to gigabit connections costs.

The legislation will apply to all new residential dwellings, including self-built homes in England, but excluding renovated buildings, schools, residential homes, halls of residence, hotels and prisons.

The government is also consulting on whether new homes created through building conversions should be included in the scope of the policy.

In October, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) announced plans to bring gigabit broadband to over half a million additional rural premises.

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