ForHousing Becomes First Social Landlord in the Country to Upgrade All of its High-Rise Homes to Ful

29th August 2020
ForHousing Becomes First Social Landlord in the Country to Upgrade All of its High-Rise Homes to Ful

A partnership between ForHousing and Openreach is bringing gigabit capable broadband to 17,000 homes in Salford and Knowlsey, enabling tenants to become more digitally connected.

ForHousing, which is part of the ForViva Group owns and manages more than 24,000 homes across the North West, is having pure fibre connectivity – known as full fibre (Fibre to the Premise [FTTP]) - retro-fitted to all 17 of its high-rise blocks.

To date 12,000 homes have been fitted with full fibre with the rest being upgraded in the coming year.

At some point in the future, the copper network in the UK will be switched off, and homes will need to have full fibre to access broadband, in much the same way as analogue TV was switched off in favour of digital.

Openreach has been focussing on getting the UK ready for the full fibre upgrade, which will bring faster, more reliable connectivity along with greater choice for consumers.

Openreach is an open network so people aren’t tied to one communication provider so can shop around for the best deal for their own needs. ForHousing is also currently looking at fibre broadband products and packages which will be affordable for tenants.

Jenny Chapman, Group Director of Innovation and Excellence at ForViva, said: “Digital inclusion is key to improving wellbeing, fighting poverty, creating routes to work and enabling children to succeed in school. More than a third (37%) of those who are digitally excluded are social housing tenants.”

Having no access to the internet can lead to a ‘digital exclusion tax’ as people who can’t get online can’t get the best deals. This can equate to over £400 per year per household.

ForHousing, like much of the social housing sector, is moving towards providing housing services digitally and many Government services are now ‘digital by default’ including Universal Credit.

Jenny continued: “Providing services digitally is often more convenient and the growing expectation of many tenants who increasingly use digital channels elsewhere. They now expect their landlord to provide similar services. The cost of digital transactions is also significantly lower, which enables not for profit organisations to focus more resources where the need is greatest. We all have a lot to gain from helping people get online.”

Kim Mears OBE, Openreach’s Managing Director for Strategic Infrastructure Development, said: “By working collaboratively with ForHousing we’ve brought some of the UK’s fastest, most reliable broadband within reach of a further 12,000 homes in Salford and Knowsley, with thousands more set to follow. Due to wayleaves, and often disinterest by landlords, getting this new technology into apartments and high rise buildings can be a challenge. ForHousing understand the importance of ensuring their tenants have access to future proof broadband and have worked with us to overcome obstacles and make it happen. We want to replicate this across the UK. Work of this type is free of charge and our engineers don’t leave visible wiring, or need to access individual properties and, of course, they’re following all current Covid 19 guidance.”

Outside of the high-rise blocks, the rest of ForHousing’s homes will be fitted with fibre in the future.