Hampshire County Council wants Westminister to give local authorities power to demand new housing developments include provision for superfast broadband
Hampshire County Council wants local authorities to be able to demand builders of new housing developments include provisions for superfast broadband.
Speaking at an industry seminar in Winchester, the council said it is asking Westminster for “clear legal powers” and would also look to retrofit recently built or under construction developments with fibre infrastructure.
The council’s existing Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK)-funded fibre rollout is aiming for 95 percent population coverage by the end of 2018, but it wants to expand this further, arguing superfast broadband is essential for the prosperity of the county and the well-being of its inhabitants.
An additional 25,000 new properties are expected to be built in Hampshire over the next five years.
Compulsory broadband rollout
“With over 450 housing developments of all sizes in the pipeline, the County Council believes that developers, as well as residents would benefit if superfast broadband was widely available at new sites,” said council leader Roy Perry. “Developers are taking more and more steps in this direction, and we would like to see this happen at a faster pace. Therefore, we will encourage infrastructure providers to work with developers to ensure these services are there to meet public demand.”
Hampshire residents apparently now regard broadband as the “fourth utility” and value it more than off-street parking. In recognition of this importance, the council will publish information about the project broadband speeds of new devlopments online and is recommending these are checked during house purchases.
BT told TechWeekEurope it agrees with Hampshire Council and would welcome local authorities being granted the proposed powers.
“We agree that people buying new homes, especially on large developments, should be able to reap the benefits of superfast broadband from a wide range of providers on the day they move in,” said a spokesperson. “We also support the idea that planning for superfast broadband could become a requirement for developers during the planning process.
“BT is the only provider in the UK that is willing to connect all new developments, rather than picking only the most profitable or easy to serve. We have a dedicated new developments team in Openreach which works closely with builders and local authorities to connect new homes to our open wholesale network, and we encourage all parties to work with us from the very outset of a project. That way our engineers can plan, design and build new connections effectively and on-time”.
According to a recent survey conducted by cable.co.uk, 42 percent of UK broadband customers would reconsider a property purchase if it had poor broadband – a third of these say they would absolutely not buy a house with slow speeds.
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