Why is decent broadband still so much of a lottery?

Dan Craven, Head of Sales at Hyperoptic explains.

Unfortunately, in the UK, the provision of fast and reliable broadband is still a lottery and it impacts a great deal on how we use and enjoy the Internet. There’s a misconception that it is an urban/rural issue. However, this is a myth - broadband ‘not spots’ and poor performing areas can exist even in our biggest cities.

For instance, we would expect the City of London to have some of the best broadband in the country. In reality, only half of its homes and businesses have access to (a still slow) download speed of 24 Mbps or above.

And nationally, just 5% of UK premises can access the ‘gold standard’ of fibre-to-the-premises (full fibre) broadband. It means that for the other 95% of us, we struggle with networks that either run on copper-based lines and/or fibre that goes only to the street side cabinet. Both options are severely limited and the UK lags other developed nations, registering just 32nd out of 34 OECD countries for full fibre.

What does ‘full fibre’ mean? Today this means symmetrical gigabit broadband services at 1,000Mbps, which is over 21x faster than the average speed a UK consumer receives today. With these speeds, HD movies can be downloaded in seconds and families can simultaneously access the Internet, without any frustrating slowdowns, buffering or timeouts. Importantly, upload speeds also match download speeds. This is becoming increasingly important as gaming, HD and 4K content usage expand and individuals upload large quantities of data to social media and file sharing sites.

Those choosing somewhere to live have wised up to the benefits that fast broadband can give them. Research shows that home movers are increasingly swotting up on many factors in advance and that the provision of hyperfast broadband is now on par of importance with local transport links, nice neighbours and garden space. Perhaps most incredibly, Brits confessed that they would spend 11% more for a property with 100Mbps+ broadband. Perhaps this is why over two-thirds of Brits (69%) now check their broadband speed before moving home via easy to use services such as the Ofcom broadband speed checker: checker.ofcom.org.uk.

Property managers have a dual motivation to look at this issue closely. Firstly, the research above is clear. Providing tenants with access to good quality, affordable broadband will attract home movers and make the sales process much easier. Secondly, they have a certain level of responsibility given that connectivity is vital to digital inclusion and without it, residents are effectively cut off from key elements of the outside world and often ‘punished’ financially given many of the best ‘deals’ on utilities, services and shopping are only available online.

Thankfully, the issue is relatively easy to fix. Hyperoptic, the UK’s largest residential gigabit broadband provider is working ‘hand in glove’ with over 120 housing organisations including developers, property management companies, social housing providers and councils to provide residents with the UK’s fastest and most flexible broadband. These unique partnerships are enabling digital inclusion to a broad spectrum of demographics and property types – from luxury apartments at the new Battersea Power Station complex to social housing developments across the country.

This arrangement presents property companies with a genuine ‘win-win’ situation. Hyperoptic provides an original specification to them, followed by a cost neutral installation. It then undertakes maintenance at its own cost going forward. Hyperoptic aims to become a standard addition to the initial specifications for new developments – offering ‘day one’ connectivity as standard to new home movers, the company also retro fits existing blocks. Again, Hyperoptic takes on the installation and maintenance costs. Residents are then offered a range of packages ranging from 30Mbps to 1Gbps. Hyperoptic has also developed a targeted, low-cost 5Mbps unlimited service, aimed at developments with social housing tenants, at just £9pm – no extra or hidden costs, no installation fees, no line rental, just the lowest cost fibre broadband in the UK.

One of the biggest challenges with deploying broadband is gaining the necessary permissions to install services. Normally this takes the form of a ‘wayleave’ - the right of way granted by the land owner to give access to the property. It can take time, which is why Hyperoptic has pioneered block agreements which cut through red tape. They can be used by any estate owner or manager but are particularly popular with social housing providers and councils including Southwark and Brent.

In the case of Southwark, the agreement sets the terms under which 100,000 homes and businesses in the borough will have access to gigabit full fibre broadband. Hyperoptic will service the whole of Southwark Council’s housing portfolio, which includes over 53,000 residential homes and nearly 1,000 commercial properties. Effectively, anyone who resides in social housing within Southwark, will have access to Gigabit broadband. But not only that, as a result of servicing these buildings, Hyperoptic’ s network will also pass an additional 46,000 homes and businesses in the borough – making it much easier to connect these privately-owned properties at a later date. This agreement sets the template for how both councils and housing providers can cut through red tape and get ultra-high-speed broadband to their residents, quickly and at absolutely no cost to them.

Whilst currently broadband provision is still not what it should be, exciting developments are in progress. In July this year, the Government set out its ‘Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review,’ which will see every premises in the country receive full fibre by 2033. Hyperoptic is moving even faster than this and has committed to deploy up to £500 million over the next three years to pass two million homes by 2021 and five million homes by 2024. It will mean that more and more people are able to experience Gigabit broadband and residents will finally be able to enjoy all the benefits that the Internet has to offer.

Find out how the team at Hyperoptic can help you visit hyperoptic.com.

 

Reviewed: July 2019