Technology

BT's Openreach 'failing' on new home broadband

Barratt Homes development Image copyright Barratt Homes
Image caption People moving into a new home might assume excellent communication as standard but often this is not the case according to a new investigation

Many residents moving into newly-built homes are finding broadband services slow or non-existent, an investigation from broadband advice site Cable.co.uk has revealed.

It has received hundreds of complaints from owners of new homes about poor broadband.

According to the Home Builders Federation, BT Openreach has failed to connect new homes on time.

In response, Openreach said it was "working hard to fix this issue".

It acknowledged that it had a backlog of new homes waiting to be connected to broadband.

"The rapid growth in the number of new homes being built around the country has resulted in some owners of new build properties having to wait longer than usual for their phone and broadband service," it said in a statement.

"Openreach would like to apologise to any affected customers and is working hard to fix this issue. We have also stated our ambition to provide infrastructure to all homes in new build developments before customers move in.

"Close liaison with developers is critical so Openreach continues to work closely with the house-building community to better plan for and deliver the capacity and infrastructure needed."

Openreach split

Openreach, the BT subsidiary responsible for the UK's telecoms infrastructure, is facing increasing pressure over its performance, as regulator Ofcom considers whether to separate the two companies.

In January, a group of more than 100 MPs signed a letter calling for Openreach to be split off.

The HBF offered its own response to the possible break-up of Openreach in October.

In its report, the federation said that it had "grown increasingly concerned at the persistent failure of BT Openreach to connect new build homes in a consistent and timely fashion".

"The poor performance of Openreach in connecting many new build homes to broadband services within a reasonable timeframe is now having an impact on the customer satisfaction levels obtained by the house builder," its report read.

"With broadband now seen as an essential utility it is unsurprising that customers moving into new homes with little or no connectivity feel dissatisfied even when, in some cases, house builders provide mobile broadband services in the interim."

A spokesman for the HBF told the BBC that the relationship with BT has improved in recent months.

Openreach added that it too "has made a lot of progress over the past year in improving its communication with developers".

"Improved processes such as encouraging developers to register new sites with Openreach at the beginning of the planning stage are also helping us to deliver on our commitment to bring fibre to as many new housing developments as possible," it told the BBC.

The telecoms company is expected to make an announcement on its plans to provide broadband services to new homes imminently.

Bad broadband

Andrew Ferguson, editor of broadband news site ThinkBroadband said that often timetables between developers and BT clashed.

"Even where developers work with Openreach, the timescale from agreeing to put a cabinet for fibre and going live is around a year (based on the 20-30 private funded cabinets that have done this to date). If a developer can get Openreach on board ahead of time this can be done to coincide with the first house being sold."

He advised buyers wanting a good connection to make sure they checked that broadband was available before purchasing.

"Only when people stop buying homes with bad broadband will developers be forced to consider it with the same importance they give things like electricity and parking," he said.

Hundreds of residents who have recently purchased a new home without broadband, have contacted Cable.co.uk to express their anger.

Dan Howdle, editor-in-chief of the website, said: "It comes as a complete surprise to most new build homebuyers that their ultra-modern home not only offers broadband speeds unfit for basic everyday use, but in some cases no broadband connectivity at all."

Earlier this month Labour MP Chi Onwurah - a former telecoms engineer - said that it was "incomprehensible" that new developments are being built without access to fibre networks. She urged the government to act on the issue.

A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: A DCMS spokesperson said: "Connectivity is something home buyers expect when buying a new build. Government is working closely with industry to address this and we expect to make an announcement on further progress soon."

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