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Briefings

Member Briefing: Superfast broadband agreement with Openreach

Date: 05/02/16

Superfast broadband agreement with Openreach

The Government has today announced details of a new deal between HBF and Openreach that will make superfast broadband available to more new build sites either by taking advantage of Openreach’s existing fibre network, or by opting for a new co-funded arrangement with a contribution per plot dependent on the size of the site. Housebuilders will be free to determine which sites to bring superfast services to based on upfront information on current availability and costs of co-funding. Those that choose not to request superfast fibre services will continue to receive the standard copper connection.

Using a new Developer Connectivity Assessment Tool, builders will be able to access information on a potential development site’s existing connectivity and, where superfast service is not currently available, what level of developer contribution will be required to equip the site with broadband speeds of 24Mbps and above. Results of the Connectivity Assessment should be available to builders within five working days of making the request.

Based on Openreach’s assessment of the historical picture, they expect most small sites will benefit via existing superfast coverage. Large sites of 250+ will be fully funded by Openreach on a commercial basis with no developer contribution required. Developers with sites of over 100 units will also have the opportunity to request ‘Ultrafast’ services at the same rate. Where co-funding is required, the contributions are set based on a sliding scale according to site size. To take advantage of the offer, Openreach require that builders register the site with them at least nine months in advance of the service being required.

The ‘rate card’ detailing per plot costs is available through Openreach’s Developer Forum webpage here.

For the minority of smaller sites that do not receive incidental coverage the per plot costs are likely to be high. Government has also today published a guide to on alternative options for developments on which fibre solutions are unlikely to prove economical on the basis of a single residential site.

As part of the agreement, HBF will shortly begin working with Openreach and Government on the creation of measures to assess the take up of the service and, from nine months, Openreach’s performance in meeting its commitments to delivery. 

Government ministers were very keen for the industry, represented by HBF, and Openreach to come to an agreement on an approach that helps drive up superfast broadband coverage through the new build sector. Today’s announcement is the result of these discussions which have taken place over several months and we believe that this voluntary offer to developers is more appropriate than government regulation.

As ever, we would continue to welcome feedback on housebuilders’ experience both in terms of using this new co-funding model, and in the service it receives more generally from Openreach.

More information on the new co-funding can be found via Openreach’s Frequently Asked Questions.

The Connectivity Assessment Tool is accessible here.

Government guidance on alternatives to fibre is available here.

 

David O’Leary

Policy Director

david.oleary@hbf.co.uk