The UK government is set to legislate to make sure new-build homes come with gigabit-speed broadband fit for the future.
Ministers say the new plans will allow people to work from home more easily and will give homes fast and reliable connections for streaming TV and films on multiple devices at the same time.
One in five new-build homes are still being built without gigabit-speed connections, mostly in smaller developments, where the cost can be higher or network operators have not had the time they need to build in connections before completion.
The move will mean developers will be legally required to install high-quality digital infrastructure from the outset, make it a priority as part of the build, and ensure broadband companies are on board before the first brick is laid.
Oliver Dowden, UK government digital secretary, said: “This legislation means every new home will be built fit for the future and give people access to world-class broadband speeds from the moment they move in. It’s all part of our plan to deliver on our commitment to give everyone in the UK access to gigabit broadband, as we connect and level up the country.”
The government will amend building regulations to guarantee that all new homes have the right infrastructure to support gigabit broadband, and housing developers must work with network operators to install internet speeds of over 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) in new-build homes, up to a cost cap of £2,000 per dwelling.
The legislation, to be laid as soon as parliamentary time allows, will remove the need to retrospectively install broadband infrastructure and reduce disruption and high costs.
To make sure developers are incentivised to follow the plans, the government has worked with operators to secure significant new commitments that they will contribute to the costs of installing gigabit broadband in new-build homes.
Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach, said: “We welcome the government’s announcement that all new build homes will be required to have the infrastructure to support gigabit-capable connections, and we will work closely with government and housebuilders on the best way to deliver this.”
Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media, said: “The government should be applauded for introducing legislation to ensure every new home has access to future proof gigabit broadband as standard - something we’ve long called for. By busting these broadband barriers, government and industry can work together and ensure new homes are no longer left behind in the gigabit broadband revolution.”
The policy, which will be laid as secondary legislation meaning it can be introduced quicker, applies to all new residential dwellings, including conversions and self-built homes, but excluding renovated buildings, schools, hotels and prisons.
The government expects that 98.1% of the time gigabit broadband will be installed at no costs to developers and that developers will have to contribute more than £1,800 for only 0.1% of new builds.