back to article You get fibre, you get fibre, you all get fibre: UK Ministry of Fun promises new rules to make all new homes gigabit capable

The UK government has promised to introduce new laws to force developers to ensure new-build properties are capable of gigabit-speed broadband. The legislation, which the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), says will be introduced at the first possible opportunity, will see building legislation amended to ensure all …

  1. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Meanwhile...

    Perhaps 5 years ago, I visited the small Dutch city of Amersfoort. In the historic centre, there were newly-installed fibre tails by every ancient front door.

    Now, admittedly, the streets consist of paviers laid on sand which means the "TTP" bit of FTTP is reasonably cost-effective to install. But the cost of ducts around a new-build site are pretty negligible if they're installed at the time of the other construction work. It seems to me it isn't the builders who need an incentive to provide the on-site infrastructure, but OpenReach that needs to be required to provide the backhaul: and if digging up roads is too expensive then it's not exactly hard to sling fibre from poles.

  2. Adam Jarvis

    It's only taken 10 years. Gov Ministers need to read El Reg comments, instead of listening to BT.

    I called for this 10 years ago. BT have spent the last 10 years like the regular pub drunk sat blocking the pub doorway, determined to prevent punters getting their 'full fibre pint'.

    When will the Government learn? If you ask BT's 'expert opinion', that opinion will be in the interests of BT and no one else, BT have and will, use the ignorance of the person asking, to their advantage.

    BT have been sitting on their hands on this issue for years, they were until recently upgrading their old legacy copper carcass with new copper, often skewing BDUK 'Fibre' contracts, by replacing 0.5mm copper with 0.9mm copper to 'just' extend the reach of FTTC so it met the minimum threshold of the contract (and no more), rather than 'in spirit, aka. doing the right thing' replacing the 0.5mm copper cabling that didn't meet the threshold with fibre, i.e. doing the job properly and installing FTTP.

    The whole basis of the subsidies paid to BT for these contracts was meant to be to install fibre, the plan being to upgrade UK's creaking telecommunications' infrastructure.

    BT pushed to have those proposals watered down, so that the technology implemented made use of their legacy copper, rather than new pure fibre cabling.

    Let's not even mention pointless G.fast snake oil marketing, to continue that ploy.

    ...and the Government roll this news out as though it's something shiny new in terms of an idea.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If it's wanted, of course

    Round here in France there's a big push for FTTP.

    At the end of August last year they'd constructed 53 nodes with 42,000 lines, of which 23,000 were on sale and 2,300 (10%) had actually been ordered by homes.

    By the end of last month those figures had changed to 63 nodes with 91,000 lines of which 80,700 were on sale. Only 4,900 (6%) had been ordered for installation.

    Meanwhile I can see the node building across the street, but apparently won't be able to order a line until "after 2021". I don't see the logic there.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: If it's wanted, of course

      We recently had FTTP installed locally as part of one of the rural broadband initiatives. As I've already got 70 Meg FTTC I see little point in paying nearly double, and nor do any other locals as far as I'm aware.

      1. legless82

        Re: If it's wanted, of course

        I recently made the switch to FTTP. The headline price looked much more expensive, but the difference in reality was less than £5/mo, once I'd junked the line rental for my copper line and switched my landline to VoIP.

  4. Martin an gof Silver badge

    Self-build?

    It'd be interesting to know how this will affect self-builds - I can't find anything with a quick search. Just completing one now, and there are quite a lot of planning regulations that are relatively easy for developers to handle but really add to the cost as a one-off thing. Another couple of thousand for a mandated fibre connection on top of things like domestic sprinklers, SuDS (sustainable drainage) compliance, Community Infrastructure Levy and so on aren't really going to encourage self-builders. CIL is a bit different, because if you remember to fill in the correct paperwork at exactly the right moments (three different sets!) you can usually get an exemption for self-build.

    Not that I don't want a fibre connection, but FTTP isn't in my village yet. ADSL is working ok for us so far, and a (cheap) upgrade to FTTC in the near future will do my family for some time to come...

    M.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Self-build?

      "domestic sprinklers" - what have you got against domestic sprinklers ?

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Self-build?

        Maybe he's the one who has to clean round the toilet.

      2. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: Self-build?

        Assuming serious question (well, why not), nothing in particular other than the cost. It's one of those things that you expect never to need and "domestic" sprinklers are a fire-suppression thing, rather than a fire-fighting thing so they're not going to save your house from burning down. The idea is to give you a few additional minutes to evacuate and hopefully to limit the damage done before the fire brigade arrives.

        Wales led the way in making sprinklers mandatory in public buildings some years ago, and they became mandatory in domestic buildings the very same month we gained our planning permission.

        Our project is fairly small with a total build cost (without land) of somewhere around £180,000 so the £2,500 basic cost of the sprinklers forms less than 1.5% of the total cost, but the smaller the project the greater the proportion.

        Sprinklers need a 32mm water main which will be an additional cost even if you are re-building as we are - we had a ½" water supply and most houses built in the last 20 years will only have 20 or 25mm. If said water main cannot provide the pressures and flows necessary for "direct" operation, then you will either need a suction pump (in our case that would add £1,500 to the cost) or you will need a pump and a storage tank for which we were quoted an additional £600 (possibly less, subject to survey) on top of the cost of the pump. Oh, and you have to have specialist electrics installed for the pump (it can't just be run from the ring circuit powering the dishwasher) and need a large amount of floor space capable of holding a tonne and a half of water.

        On a purely practical level, the heads have a limited range so tend to be installed slap bang in the middle of most rooms, exactly the spot where you would normally put a light fitting. More than that, a standard 6" pendant cannot be installed closer than 30cm to the head and larger, more showy, dangly fittings should be even further away. Try explaining that to the builder struggling to cut the hole in the correct place in your ceiling boards while also trying to place the lighting cable.

        The only variable is the number of sprinkler heads and connecting pipe required. The cost of installing the water main, the cost of the pump and the cost of the tank are (pretty much) equal for most "normal" sized houses and in our case we could possibly be looking at a bill of £4,500 plus electrics plus losing a space the "size of a filing cabinet" (according to our installer). This amounts to 2.5% of our build cost, or to put it another way, it's about the amount of money we've set aside to use for kitchen and bathrooms.

        Oh, and there's an ongoing cost of maintenance - the system has to be drained and inspected regularly. By a qualified installer. In the case of a tank system that also means chucking away 1½m³ of water, and although we are unmetered with our ½" water connection, the 32mm connection comes with a mandatory meter. Somehow, they propose that water used for fighting fires is not metered. I have no idea how they will be able to separate that out!

        It's just "one more thing". Self-build can still be better value for money than buying from a spec. builder and having the freedom to design the internal layout is brilliant (exactly which one of our children is going to be happy with the "box room" typically found in those properties, when siblings have larger rooms?) but costs like this - which spec. builders can often get around or at least reduce - are making it less so.

        Yes, fibre is definitely the way to go, but even the capped cost is a lot higher than the cost of connecting Copper in most areas.

        M.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Self-build?

          See, those old "Come home to a real fire. Buy a cottage in Wales." jokes did have an effect!

  5. Licenced_Radio_Nerd
    Unhappy

    In-house cabling...

    All well and good to mandate FTTP, but how about changing building-regulations to require all new-build and re-build to feature multiple Cat6, TV, VHF radio, and Satellite points to all bedrooms, lounge, dinning room, et al. We also need laws to ensure copper-clad-Aluminium is banned!!

    Let me tell you a story: way back in the late 1990s, an American work-colleague showed me a brochure for a house she and her English husband were buying in Southern California. Apart from the copious use of wood, and a large basement, the major point for me was the Cat5 cabling to all of the rooms. In the UK, we are still installing the POTS line by the front door with no power and no way of routing it somewhere useful. And the reason? "We've always done it like that!"

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: In-house cabling...

      In the UK, we are still installing the POTS line by the front door with no power and no way of routing it somewhere useful.

      WTF? My BT/OpenReach lines come into the house in my second floor(*) office, right next to the data cabinet, and they were initially installed back in 2001.

      (*) US English: third floor.

    2. Dr Paul Taylor

      Re: In-house cabling...

      the POTS line by the front door

      and with obligatory exposed cable near ground level, just to make it convenient for burglars and others to sever.

  6. The Dogs Meevonks

    Not coming here for years yet

    I live in a fairly large town, I'm sandwiched between 5 very large towns all within 5-10 miles away and on major routes between 4 of them and a slightly less major route (but still A-Road) with the other.

    I had an openreach engineer out yesterday because my FTTC service had degraded more than 50% to the point it was causing trouble when streaming/gaming/downloading at the same time... and 30-40% below the minimum my ISP guarantee.

    According to him, they are concentrating on either new builds and rural areas with towns like mine and any other that already have FTTC... are unimportant and will be amongst the last to get FTTH.

    Over in Milton Keynes... they've been laying FTTH in areas... or at least vodafone have... but if you want it... you have to go with them, and they point blank refuse to transfer your phone number. I know people who have had to discard the number they've had for 30yrs or more and can ONLY go with vodafone (who are one of the worst companies to deal with in my experience, think talktalk on steroids for the bullshit and lies they spew).

    So yeah... upgrade an area is great... but not if it locks in a monopoly for the service... that's a downgrade and a surefire way to end up making people pay more not less.

    1. legless82

      Re: Not coming here for years yet

      I'm not sure that the OpenReach guy's statement around the areas being prioritized for FTTP is correct. I live in a reasonably-sized market town in the Midlands (population c.70k) that's had FTTC for around 7 or 8 years.

      Recently, OpenReach descended on the place and FTTP is now available virtually everywhere in the town (and that's after being one of the areas that was trialled for G.Fast too).

      To an outsider, there appears to be little logic or reason to the areas being chosen. Presumably, it makes sense to OpenReach somehow though.

  7. batfink Silver badge

    Weasel words as usual

    "Gigabit capable" - fuck off.

    What exactly does this mean? Fibre fully laid and connected? Cabinets installed within range? Or is this just "we've laid a bit of conduit somewhere near your house guv"?

    Call me a cynic if you will, but I strongly suspect it'll be the latter.

    Never mind - government initiative announced, broadband solved, trebles all round for the politicians. Next!

  8. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Even when fibre arrives it may not be suitable for techies

    In theory CityFibre are going down my road in the near future(*) and there will be a tap for every house. However, initially you can only get it via Vodaphone as they get first dibs on the first million (or maybe 3 million) connections. I suspect their reaction when I say "I'll take the gigabit package, but I need at least one static publicly visible IPv4 and a /48 IPv6 assignment"(**) will be something like "Yer what?". I'll just have to hope that after the lock in period ends a competent ISP like Zen starts using their infrastructure as well.

    (*) Covid-19 permitting. They've done one street away but I haven't seen them for a couple of days.

    (**) World visible servers at home, of course.

    1. Dave Pickles

      Re: Even when fibre arrives it may not be suitable for techies

      "(*) Covid-19 permitting. They've done one street away but I haven't seen them for a couple of days."

      That's because they're parked across my drive. Luckily Covid-19 also means I don't need to drive anywhere at present.

  9. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Let The Sunshine In, Face It With A Grin

    Be nice if they utilised all those roofs, and mandated builders shove in Solar Panels for new builds at the same time.

    My council house has that, and all the surplus unused power goes to the council, cutting down on Council Tax: the new privately built estate across the road never did. *

    .

    California did that, but builders have found loopholes to avoid the cost: also the anti-renewable crowd can no doubt point out California doesn't get enough sun. **

    [ Many thinking Americans believe that taking power from the sun diminishes the sun by sucking all the energy from it. ***]

    [ And of course, solar panels cause cancer. *** ]

    .

    .

    * https://www.mygridgb.co.uk/solar-petition/

    ** https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2019-11-11/california-might-not-require-solar-panels-on-new-homes

    *** https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-town-rejects-solar-panels-amid-fears-they-suck-up-all-the-energy-from-the-sun-a6771526.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AuPSZ9Hxbzc

  10. Charles Smith

    If only...

    If only Gordon Brown had spent the Mobile Phone wavelength auction tax windfall on delivering full fibre to the country. £20 Billion?

  11. EnviableOne Silver badge

    No de-duct-ing

    They have to put provisions in that require that new build have ducting laid, as if they don't the wayleave and planning to install it after causes all sorts of issues.

    I'd prefer the requirement of a connection, but will settle for the duct...

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