When you move into a new house there are certain utilities you expect to be able to access such as water, energy and broadband.
This is particularly the case if the house is a new build, yet when Ben Mains and his partner Natalie, who bought their new build home in August 2016, moved in they found there was no way to access a decent speed of broadband.
In fact not only was there no fibre broadband, the best speed Ben can hope for is around 1.8Mbit/s – far below the 10 Mbit/s the regulator believes is needed to get a ‘decent’ broadband speed.
Ben and his partner Natalie moved in two years ago but still can’t get decent broadband speeds
Ben says he knows of many households where the best speeds available are less than 0.5bit/s leaving many people relying on their 4G mobile signal instead.
He says: ‘Our broadband is usable for basic browsing which means sometimes videos will play in a low resolution but other times photos struggle to load and if one of us happens to be watching something, then everything else slows right down and becomes fairly unusable’.
Ben says when it comes to watching TV shows or films, this is only possible if he remembers to set the download for a day before and he knows some neighbours where it takes a full 24 hours to download a film.
When the internet gets really bad, Ben and Natalie have to rely on using their 4G mobile phone signal and they’ve both had to increase their plans for this.
He said: ‘We would like to have been able to consider services such as Netflix but there’s no chance of anything like that. I have neighbours who have given up and always use their 4G signal, some have bought 4G dongles so they are able to use their laptops.’
The house Ben lives in isn’t in the middle of nowhere either, it’s located in the city of Gloucester and he says he cannot believe an estate with more than a hundred new homes was built without the facilities being made available for households to access a normal broadband speed.
When he moved into the property, the houses built were the ‘phase one’ of homes, and since moving in a second ‘phase two’ area of homes has been built. But these newer homes are able to get faster broadband speeds.
He said: ‘The developers have been contacted, but have pretty much just shrugged their shoulders, and given a variety of different reasons as to why ‘phase one’ does not have fibre access.
‘From a very simple online search it seems that developments of 100+ new homes can have ‘fibre to the premises’ provided free of charge – it appears that Persimmon just made glaring mistakes during the planning of phase one of our development and aren’t planning to do anything about this.’
Ben’s broadband provider is Sky, but it has no say when it comes to the infrastructure of a new line as this responsibility lies with Openreach and the building developer.
Sky told us in order for Ben to get fibre broadband, his telephone line would need to be routed from a fibre-enabled cabinet, but at the moment there wasn’t access to one from their home.
For ‘decent’ broadband Ofgem says households need broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbit/s
We got in touch with Persimmon to find out why this had happened.
Andy Peters, managing director at Persimmon Homes South Midlands, said: ‘The first phase of properties at our Horsbere Mews development were sold with a standard internet line.
‘We are now in discussions with BT to explore the possibility that customers on the first phase of the development can be upgraded to a fibre broadband connection.’
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While a spokesperson for Openreach said: ‘We connected the first homes in the Horsbere Mews development with standard broadband in 2016, and new phases are getting access to ‘full fibre’ technology at no cost to the residents or developer.
‘We also now plan to upgrade the older homes to superfast speeds, having recently agreed a co-funded model with Persimmon.
‘This approach has proved successful with many large developers across Britain as it offers a competitive cost compared to other broadband providers. For example we recently upgraded 3,000 Redrow Homes across 14 separate developments.’
In Ben’s situation, Openreach and Persimmon have now come to an agreement to co-fund upgrading his and the other new builds on his estate to fibre broadband.
However, we often hear from readers across the country who are facing similar issues. Homeowners who are left without a connection to fibre broadband, and suffer as a result with slow internet speeds, despite their homes being newly built.
Recent research from Thinkbroadband has also showed that between one in four and one in five new premises are still being built without access to superfast broadband.
Ben bought his new build home in 2016 yet has never had access to fibre broadband
It said: ’What is clear from our data is that a lot of new premises are slipping through the commercial broadband roll-out nets and Government and planning authorities need to address this now, otherwise the periodic stories in the press about people buying new homes and being stuck with slow broadband will continue.
‘It is impossible to imagine one in four new homes being built with access to mains water and it should be the same with superfast broadband.’
When looking at broadband connectivity across the country as a whole, in the last ‘Connection Nations’ report from Ofcom, it estimated that around 1.1million UK premises did not have access to a decent broadband speed, of at least 10Mbit/s, and 17 per cent of these were in rural areas while 2 per cent were in urban areas.
The Government has now promised that the whole of the UK will have access to speeds of at least 10 Mbit/s by 2020. However, while this will be welcome to those with speeds of less than 10 Mbit/s, this is still a significant way off the speeds of up to 76 Mbit/s being offered to those with fibre broadband.
Those who are stuck in a new build with a poor broadband connection can contact Openreach and the building developer and ask what work will be done to enable them to access faster broadband.
They could also contact their local council or local MP to ask it for help – although there are no guarantees either will speed along the installation.
Vix Leyton, spokesperson for Broadband Choices, commented: ‘Connectivity is absolutely vital for day to day life for the majority of the UK; powering everything from their general browsing to smart technology like speakers.
‘It is against this backdrop that it is absolutely staggering that broadband access isn’t a major consideration for every new build property being planned.
‘Obviously there are circumstances where environment and infrastructure will compromise the speeds available, but for anyone who is moving into a well-connected town then there is an expectation of being able to access the bare minimum needed to run a standard household and there is no excuse, especially with the government mandating speeds of at least 10Mbps to reach the whole of the UK by 2020.’
Earlier this year Ofcom submitted a range of proposals to further increase investment in the UK’s ‘full-fibre’ broadband network to the European Commission for consultation.
These proposals suggested a price cut to the cost Openreach charges rival firms to use its network along with a range of requirements to make it easier for other firms to set up their own networks.
It said these plans would halve the upfront cost of building ‘full-fibre’ broadband networks and it hoped these costs would be passed onto consumers.
How broadband speeds work
To stream a film at a decent quality, Ofcom says properties need speeds of around 5Mbit/s, 2Mbit/s to watch a TV show and 0.5Mbit/s for basic web browsing.
To download a film of around 6GB with an average speed of 24Mbit/s it would take around 35 minutes, this rises to one hour 47 minutes for those with speeds of 8Mbit/s and more than seven hours for those with 2Mbit/s.
For households with speeds under 2Mbit/s it’s considerably more and around 14 hours for those with 1Mbit/s.