back to article Government hails superfast broadband deal for new homes

The Government has brokered a deal between BT Openreach and The Home Builders Federation (HBF) which means “new build homes [are] to have superfast broadband connectivity”. This is a tad optimistic as there is no legal compulsion for house builders to comply with the new arrangement. BT Openreach is making easier for …

  1. AndrueC Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Better late than never I suppose but this deal should have been in place a decade ago. Five years ago at least. Ironically some new builds did get fibre as part of the initial build late last century but then BT had to lay copper overlay in order to provide ADSL to them.

    Madness I tells ya. Sheer madness.

    1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

      OK, my house was built 20 years ago, but it was right in the middle of lots of cable companies digging out all the roads in sight to lay cables at their own cost. But the cable company back then went to the builder on our quite large estate and said, hey if you give us a large pile of dosh, we'll lay cable TV to all these houses and you'd be able to sell that as a feature to your customers. The builders response was "piss off, you do it for free for all the other roads why should we pay you?" A stand off ensued. As a consequence no cable was laid, and since the builders had to lodge a sizeable bond with the council guaranteeing the roads the builders refused point blank to let the cable companies monkeys come along later to dig up the road. So still no cable.

      Meanwhile since we were buying the house new we asked to be allowed to lay CAT5 everywhere before they plastered. No deal :-( Another new house we'd looked at was going to allow us to lay network cables everywhere, but the house was smaller and more expensive. So what do you chose?

  2. The Electron
    FAIL

    Still building mud and sticks.

    That is all well and good, but they are still building houses without Cat6 flood wiring, and when you do see a fibre/copper connection, it is usually in the daftest place possible and no-where near a power socket! Building regs need to be updated to ensure all new-build (and properties placed on the rental market) are flood-wired with Cat6 and co-ax for TV, Satellite, and VHF radio. Oh, and they need to ban Copper Clad Aluminium whilst they are at it!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still building mud and sticks.

      +1 and a quick rant of my own ...

      Wires (including 12v and Cat6) should be trunked - you shouldn't need to dig channels in the wall to add or change wiring.

      Ugly piping everywhere is unecessary, No UK house should need central heating, sufficient insulation would be fine in our climate.

      The flipping kitchen sink should not be under the flipping kitchen window; we have dishwashers these days.

      A washing machine would be better placed in a bathroom than a kitchen if there's no utility room.

      The size of UK houses should be measured in area, not 'number of bedrooms.

      YMMV, of course :-)

      1. david bates

        Re: Still building mud and sticks.

        How are you going to plug your washing machine in in the bathroom? And what are you going to do with your tumble dryer?

        1. H in The Hague Silver badge

          Re: Still building mud and sticks.

          Here in NL it's quite common to have washing machines in the bathroom. They used to be hard-wired to a pullcord operated switch. However, in recent years they've relaxed the wiring regulations and socket outlets are now permitted in bathrooms (hasn't led to a spate of deaths I don't think). Tumble dryer usually sits on top of the washing machine. Timber floors here usually solid enough not to cause vibration problems. Apparently the Dutch appliance delivery folk are quite capable of carring the units up the steep and narrow stairs.

          Recently saw a rental property in Sussex where they'd also put these appliances in the bathroom, though I didn't check the wiring arrangements.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Still building mud and sticks.

            Here in NL it's quite common to have washing machines in the bathroom. They used to be hard-wired to a pullcord operated switch. However, in recent years they've relaxed the wiring regulations and socket outlets are now permitted in bathrooms (hasn't led to a spate of deaths I don't think).

            Could be that the switch to modern RCBs has made it safer than old fashioned fuse wire.

            I'm guessing the Dutch system is like that in France and you use spurs rather than a ring main. The UK sockets are quite happy to dump 30+ Amps out of the wall.

            I'm not sure that the place you saw in Sussex wouldn't be breaching all sorts of UK laws.

            I know that in the places we rent out I wouldn't do it. Mind the last place we bough was built in 1992 and didn't have RCBs! When I had our electrician go and sort things out he said there was a stupid clause in the planning laws that meant that if the builders claimed the design for the wiring pre-dated the safety laws they didn't have to obey them so long as they kept following the same old dumb design as they put up new houses. Mad Mad Mad.

            1. H in The Hague Silver badge

              Re: Still building mud and sticks.

              Yes, relaxation of the NL wiring regs likely to be due to the improvement by safety offered by RCDs (for our US readers: ground fault circuit interrupters). Here the consumer unit usually has several RCDs so one tripping doesn't plunge the house in darkness.

              30 A ring mains not widely used outside the UK as far I'm aware. Here in NL (and DE I think) they do use 16 A spurs just as in France as you mentioned. But the circuit capacity isn't really relevant to electrocution: 100 mA will usually kill you, without blowing the fuse/tripping the breaker.

              As an aside: I was always puzzled why UK consumer units (for non-UK readers: distribution boxes with a main switch, RCDs and a circuit breaker for each electrical circuit in the dwelling) were two to four times cheaper than those in NL and DE. Then I read about the new IEE wiring regs requiring the consumer unit to be surrounded by noncombustible material. Apparently a lot of them catch fire! That might have something to do with the low price. So when I build my house in the UK I'm v tempted to bring over an expensive consumer unit from NL or DE - not an item where I want to cut corners.

            2. AndrueC Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Still building mud and sticks.

              I know that in the places we rent out I wouldn't do it. Mind the last place we bough was built in 1992 and didn't have RCBs!

              My current house was built around then and it doesn't have them. In fact it has fuse wires in the consumer unit. They look like it ought to be possible to replace with fuse cartridges but I think a sparky once told me that wasn't allowed. Since they rarely blow I've never properly looked into it.

              Blame Wilcon for that :-/

          2. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Still building mud and sticks.

            I think the new building regs in the UK allow sockets in the bathroom, if pipes/wires and sockets/showerheads are a certain distance from each other.

      2. armitasp

        Re: Still building mud and sticks.

        washing machine in the bathroom. WTF.

        240v 13 Amp device in an area with lots of water. Given that the socket would need to be 3m away from zone 1, you are going to need a decent sized bathroom (even then it is not a good idea). Also bathrooms tend to be on the first floor, so now you have to carry a washing machine upstairs. Also the reverberation through the wooden joisted floor would permeate most of the house (nice)!

        I think I'll stick the washing machine in the kitchen thanks.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Still building mud and sticks.

          "washing machine in the bathroom. WTF. 240v 13 Amp device in an area with lots of water... I think I'll stick the washing machine in the kitchen thanks"

          So I can put the 240V 13A device next to the kitchen sink, but I can't put it next to the sink in the bathroom?

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: Still building mud and sticks.

            So I can put the 240V 13A device next to the kitchen sink, but I can't put it next to the sink in the bathroom?

            You are not likely to be naked and wet all over in the kitchen.

            M.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Steve Medway

        Re: Still building mud and sticks.

        I'm guessing your a Yank, they still allow plug points in bathrooms. Tis bloddy stupid mixing leccy & water in bathroom, but since your probably a Yank you'll never believe that.

        Err sinks under Windows are a good idea. You get to look out the window whilst doing the washing up. I mean seriously, have you seen how small a two bedroomed terraced house's kitchen is? Plenty can't even fit a fridge in theirs (that's circa 1900's housing stock for you, small kitchens and no original bathroom).

        It's embarrassing that many new builds are actually smaller in footage than tiny old terraced houses. Barrat type development houses are nick-named 'rabbit hutches' for a reason!

        As for no UK house needing central heating... my god you've obviously never lived by the sea or in Scotland (or the UK for that matter)!

        Next you'll be telling us how banning guns in UK has caused a major uplift in shootings.

        To sum up..... Muppet!

        1. phil dude
          Boffin

          Re: Still building mud and sticks.

          @Steve Medway - "I'm guessing your a Yank, they still allow plug points in bathrooms. Tis bloddy stupid mixing leccy & water in bathroom, but since your probably a Yank you'll never believe that."

          Every bathroom I have seen in America has a built in ground fault trip (I think they are ground fault interrupters here). So clearly it has been thought of...and it seems quite effective.

          And this means you can have a hair dryer in front of the mirror with lights, which is almost impossible in the UK without a 3m extension lead!!

          P.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still building mud and sticks.

          "I'm guessing your [sic] a Yank" nope. Although I have visited, I have lived in a number of UK and EU places. I've also NEVER been in a bathroom without mains electricity, have you?

          "I mean seriously, have you seen how small a two bedroomed terraced house's kitchen is" Yes I have one. A kitchen so small I needed to pay double to get a table top D/W because there's no slot for a floor standing one, even a half-width. I'd rather look out of the window when doing prep or eating my cereal, instead of having a breakfast bar facing the wall and a sink facing the window. I also have a fridge in the hall because the flipping kitchen is too small. And the sensible place for the fridge has got a bloody washing machine in it. I swear this is historical, just because in the old days that's where the mains water and the drainage was. Where's your laundry basket? In your kitchen?

          I realise UK houses are too small because I live here. That's why I favour x square metres (or feet) rather than "2 bedrooms" when i have a main bedroom that is so small you can only enter the double bed from one side.

          I have lived in Sweden, where central heating isn't all that common, and it's pretty cold there. Although I have lived in Scotland and by the sea too, so I do understand where you're coming from. But I still think much of that is due to poor insulation.

          I don't know why you call me a muppet merely for expressing an opinion contrary to your own - or why you mention guns -- they only thing I go shooting off is my mouth!

          1. Steve Medway

            Re: Still building mud and sticks.

            "A kitchen so small I needed to pay double to get a table top D/W because there's no slot for a floor standing one, even a half-width. I'd rather look out of the window when doing prep or eating my cereal, instead of having a breakfast bar facing the wall and a sink facing the window. I also have a fridge in the hall because the flipping kitchen is too small. And the sensible place for the fridge has got a bloody washing machine in it."

            So your too lazy to wash up manually and your kitchen is super small too. Here's some ideas for ya:-

            1. Swap the fridge and the washing machine locations, you can buy long washing hoses no problem.

            2. Stop being lazy, wasting 'leccy and do your own washing up, dishwashers ruin decent kitchen wear, plates, glasses etc, you've got one so you know it's true!

            3. If you live in a terraced house whilst doing the washing up try waving at your neighbour and maybe open your kitchen window and have a chat whilst getting on with it, does wonders for neighbourly friendships :)

      4. Darren B 1

        Re: Still building mud and sticks.

        Quite a few new home builds include a combined Cloakroom / Utility Room now. I think that is actually a good use of space and saves on two under used rooms.

        However I can see it causing family strife if someone has just laid a cable and the washing machine finishes shortly after.

      5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

        Re: Still building mud and sticks.

        Wires (including 12v and Cat6) should be trunked - you shouldn't need to dig channels in the wall to add or change wiring.

        Agree. But that would put up the install cost, and we all know how builders like to install the best value solution...

        No UK house should need central heating, sufficient insulation would be fine in our climate.

        Er, and where do you live? My gaff is less than 10 years old in the South East, has up-to-date insulation, yet it still gets uncomfortably cold in the middle of the day & night in winter when the heating isn't on.

        The flipping kitchen sink should not be under the flipping kitchen window; we have dishwashers these days.

        You have a dish washer. I don't. My household is small and we'd either run the dishwasher half empty (or more) or have to buy more kitchenware so we could use the dishwasher every three or four days.

        A washing machine would be better placed in a bathroom than a kitchen if there's no utility room.

        I can see the logic, but I'm not sure about safety.

      6. David Beck

        Re: Still building mud and sticks.

        Absolutely agree, UK new builds look like 1950s floorplans. No storage, microscopic bedrooms, open plan means there is room in the kitchen for a small table. Too much carpet and not enough insulation.

  3. John H Woods Silver badge

    What is "superfast" broadband? Does it just mean > 12Mb/s of ADSL on POTS?

    I'd say 2(N+1) Mb/s, where N is the number of bedrooms in a property, should be the absolute minimum.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'd say 2(N+1) Mb/s, where N is the number of bedrooms in a property,

      The one place I never use my broadband is the bedroom, Well, except for the one that's converted to an office.

      1. Dan Wilkie

        Really? That's the main place I use mine. For, um, research...

  4. Steve Medway

    Meh who cares?

    Simples...

    Don't buy a new house with no decent broadband available (pre or post purchase). Builders would soon add Broadband to Gas, Electric and Water.

    While we're about it force builders to NOT build on floodplains.... They're called floodplains for a reason! Mass flooding isn't a global warming thing, it's fuckwit planning thing.

    Or put another way.... force builders to lay more than one of their usual cables (the Portaloo kind).

    1. Richard Jones 1
      Unhappy

      Re: Meh who cares?

      Too true! If they must build on flood plains, make sure the place floats and that there is a mooring for the escape boats. Oh and ensure that the place can be insured; then water proof the electrical systems and ensure that the drains do NOT push back and flood the house with raw sewage, (cooked sewage is NO better).

      Given the location issues perhaps radio broadband might be a better bet? At least the floating house should still be able to use it then!

      Utilities should be just that as you said.

      Oh and stop builders doing what mine did, waste 30% of the floor area with stupid boxing in for just a couple of pipes. The space would have made a good priest hole, or a flat for someone who was really keen for a home.

  5. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    The size of UK houses should be measured in area

    Oh yes !

    We currently pack 1,400 sq. feet in our 2-bed bunglalow. (OK, we have a toilet/cloakroom, bin store, utility room plus a hall to access them).

    Currently I have yet to see a *4* bedroom house (which, don't forget has an EXTRA FLOOR) with more than 1,200 sq. feet.

    Get fed up of looking at new builds in 2014. Best way to shut the sales droid up was to ask which room they suggested we lose to move into the new build.

    And as for "garages" ????? Can't we have a law forcing developers to call them what they are: "external storage units" ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The size of UK houses should be measured in area

      "external storage units"

      That's mine - a garage formed by roofing over the drive between the house and the neighbours garage and then filling in the ends. As the space was to allow room only to drive through to the garage in the back (and I've no idea if there was ever one, or it was removed), its a tad narrow to say the least.

      If I swapped my current car for one with a sun roof, and built a Thunderbirds' style tube from top of the stairs to the garage then I might be able to put it away without ruining the doors, or extreme slimming diets.

    2. annodomini2
      Thumb Up

      Re: The size of UK houses should be measured in area

      Re: Garages

      Most of the new builds I've looked at you couldn't fit a classic mini in there and get out, let alone anything modern.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: The size of UK houses should be measured in area

        Re: Garages

        Our 1960s house (so size isn't a new issue) has a garage into which our Kangoo (older style) will fit, but only if the garage is completely empty and you pull over slightly so that you can open the door far enough to get out. Oh, and you have to park in back-first because front-first and the door won't close.

        M.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    slightly OT ,,

    has anyone any experience as to whether broadband (or lack thereof) has ever played a part in house pricing ?

    We're currently in a VM true-cable area (I have a domestic BB at 60Mbs and business at 30MBs - both the entry level offering). Meanwhile, friends in the sticks can't get 3MBs.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: slightly OT ,,

      The availability of broadband is typically only of interest to those who put it as a primary requirement. I suggest these people make up an insignificant part of the market as to make no real difference to house prices. Plus due to on-going UK housing shortage (that most probably won't be resolved within the next 20 years) the market will largely remain a sellers market.

    2. HereIAmJH

      Re: slightly OT ,,

      "has anyone any experience as to whether broadband (or lack thereof) has ever played a part in house pricing ?"

      I suspect it's going to be like telephone service and public utilities. Some people wouldn't buy a house on a septic system or well water. Not too long ago a land line would have been a firm requirement on a home. Would you buy a house that didn't have cell service? I'm sure cable TV and Internet is a determining factor in some home purchases. Particularly new houses. I installed Google Fiber at my 70yo house (that is currently vacant) just because I knew it could be a selling point at a later date.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: slightly OT ,,

      "has anyone any experience as to whether broadband (or lack thereof) has ever played a part in house pricing ?"

      Estate agent-type viewpoint:

      http://www.rightmove.co.uk/news/articles/check-broadband-before-you-move-its-the-sensible-decision

      ThinkBroadband (longstanding independent UK website) viewpoint:

      http://www.thinkbroadband.com/news/5711-majority-of-people-willing-to-pay-more-for-home-with-good-broadband.html (and probably others)

  7. frank ly Silver badge

    From the linked report

    "But one Virgin engineer who contacted us laid the blame at the feet of developers.

    He said: “I see this all the time, developers will not allow Virgin Media onto new build developments even though Virgin Media are willing to pay the costs involved." "

    That's interesting. Does anyone have any idea why this might be so?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: From the linked report

      Alarms.

      You cannot get a monitored alarm company to monitor anything but a dedicated BT copper (and only copper) line in the UK on a consumer product. On the continent copper alarms have been extinct for decades - you cannot get one. It is all cellular or dedicated radio. In the UK you cannot get a cellular monitored alarm unless you are a business and even then they saddle you with it as an adjunct to a primary copper contract.

      Why is this the case... Well that question warrants a competition commission investigation + OfCom investigation. Why this investigation has never happened warrants organized crime investigation.

      1. Nixinkome

        Re: From the linked report

        @ Voland's right hand

        The answer to the question may have something to do with the necessary insurance for consumer or business security. How insurance companies deal with it on the continent indicates their faith in reliable security systems which UK insurance companies do not seem to have.

        I think that straightforward competition may be cheaper than investigations but I do not know the monopoly implications involved

        This thread seems to have opened up more than one can of worms. How long will uninsurable/unhackable Internet of Things ideas take to become accepted?.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: From the linked report

        Alarm standards are governed by EN50131 and EN50136.

        The higher levels of protection only allows radio or cellular to be used as a backup to a wired system. In the UK the ACPO guidelines (assc. Of chief police officers) state that police will only respond to an alarm generated by one of the higher protection levels.

        That doesn't feel like a conspiracy, more likely that UK monitored alarm systems are generally built to a higher protection level than the ones in mainland Europe.

    2. David Beck

      Re: From the linked report

      Sure, the developer makes an exclusive agreement with an infrastructure company like IFNL (who retail as Seethelight). No other supplier can install kit, including Openreach, Virgin,... Money is involved.

  8. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

    What about competition?

    Looks all good, but will this deal also make it easy for BT competitors to provide their services?

    I'm in a new build where FTTP has been installed, but the phone exchange hasn't been ADSL-enabled (and never will, if I believe the builder). Only BT can provide me FTTP - Plusnet have a trial offer, but only for their existing ADSL customers. So I'm stuck between BT (fiber) or VM (cable), their crappy customer service and extortionate prices :-(

    1. sthen

      Re: What about competition?

      FrogsAndChips, if it's BT FTTP then there are more choices than just BT (see http://www.superfastcornwall.org/can-you-connect/fttp-ordering) but it *is* rather limited. For some reason, despite the similar costs, some ISPs don't provide this option.

      But then there are a bunch of new builds with FTTP provided by another company (often IFNL), and in those cases you have approximately 2 ISP options.

      Anyone looking at a new build property, CHECK CAREFULLY about options for broadband. Don't assume that the developer will be doing anything useful unless forced.

    2. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: What about competition?

      It is not clear just what is in the deal.

      I suspect that the issue revolves around the universal service obligation; which applies to the PSTN and not data services...

      Thinking through where we are at with BDUK, the issue here is: new and/or enlarged FTTC cabinets and associated backhaul and those cabinets BT had placed outside of BDUK. So this deal is about who will fund the necessary upgrades to BT's network to enable better data services.

      So to answer your point about promoting competition, I suggest it isn't. It's about BT's universal service obligation and the piggybacking of broadband/fibre services on the back of it. Hence I suggest this is actually bad news for independent service providers, looking to do business with developers.

    3. Carl Thomas

      Re: What about competition?

      I'm sure huge swathes of the country feel for you having the choice between FTTP and cable.

      There is no reason why other companies cannot supply you FTTP, just most of them choose not to.

      Zen should be able to help you if I remember rightly, as can Andrews and Arnold. I'm sure there are others, too.

      1. FrogsAndChips Bronze badge

        Re: What about competition?

        With ADSL I had a choice between far more providers and frequent promotional offers to keep the prices down. The bandwidth was enough for my needs, I still don't see the point of fiber or cable for my personal use but I've been forced to subscribe one. I realise there are people at the other end of the spectrum who can't get a decent connection and would rather be in my shoes, but that doesn't say I shouldn't complain.

        I've checked Zen and A&A as suggested by sthen and you (thanks for that), but their availability checker returns nothing for my address, and their rates don't look appealing anyway. So competition is still inexistent in this domain. I'm particularly appalled to see that they will still force a line rental on you, even though it's absolutely unnecessary for FTTP, or just take 2 quid off the 17 for NOT providing it.

        1. Tom Wood

          Line rental

          Line rental is not "unnecessary". You still want some kind of piece of string between you and "the internet" and providing that string costs money. Doesn't really matter whether you use that string to make analogue phone calls or not.

          They should just call it a "standing charge" like the gas and electric companies do and have done with it.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here we go again...

    BT get to cherry-pick the "commercially viable" new builds and force someone else to pay to connect the others so that they get them for free and can charge rental on the infrastructure :-(

    Wouldn't a better plan be for the developers to install suitable ducting that can then be used by any telecomms provider?

    1. Carl Thomas

      Re: Here we go again...

      Who owns the ducts when they're done, though?

      In my experience developers don't like paying for anything if they can help it, up to and including street maintenance.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Here we go again...

        Who owns the ducts when they're done, though?

        BT.

  10. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Mushroom

    You see, it's nonsense like this ..

    which leads me to doubt the "end of the world" rhetoric that (some) politicians try to use to extract more $$$$s. God knows what the emissions consequence of having to cable *after* building are.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bye bye Gigaclear, bye bye Hyperoptic?

    Bye bye the other niche connectivity providers/ISPs that dared challenge the irrestible force that is BT plc t/a BT Openreach.

    It was nice while you were around, but I guess being stomped on by BT at some stage was always inevitable. There's a reason so few others have tried, and even fewer have succeeded.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye bye Gigaclear, bye bye Hyperoptic?

      So, to be clear, it's a bad thing when BT don't provide better broadband to people, but it's also a bad thing when they do? That's a bit of a conundrum.

      I think Hyperoptic only deploy network in central London, so this won't affect them. I'm not sure why it would affect gigaclear either - their business model is to cover existing established villages, not new build estates.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bye bye Gigaclear, bye bye Hyperoptic?

        "it's a bad thing when BT don't provide better broadband to people, but it's also a bad thing when they do?"

        It's a bad thing when BT say "not commercially viable" in an area and then suddenly turn up when a competitor decides to show that it is commercially viable. Lots of that in the early days of DSL when wireless ISPs thought they stood a chance. Now they know better.

        It's a very bad thing when, as a consequence of the above, pretty much all of the BDUK taxpayer money ends up in BT's coffers, because almost everyone except BT has pulled out (see above).

        HYPEroptic are in Leeds and maybe elsewhere, aren't they?

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