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Housing: Broadband

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 112972, tabled on 9 November 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps he has taken to ensure a reasonable cost of wayleaves for installing full fibre in new and existing housing developments.

Answered on

16 November 2020

My department has introduced a suite of measures to deploy nationwide gigabit broadband as cheaply and as quickly as possible.

The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill once enacted will make it easier for network operators to install gigabit broadband in multi-dwelling buildings such as blocks of flats). Third Reading in the House of Lords is expected to take place shortly.

The Bill creates a faster, cheaper application process in the First-tier Tribunal that operators may use in situations where (i) a leaseholder has requested a connection to be installed, (ii) repeated requests for access have failed to illicit a response from the landowner and (iii) the operator requires access to common parts of the building (such as hallways, basements and stairwells) in order to connect the consumer.

It is expected that the Bill will bring costs of applying to the courts for access for the operator down to below £500 and shorten the process to around 6 weeks.

The Electronic Communication Code is the legal framework underpinning rights to install and maintain digital communications infrastructure on public and private land by operators.

Government has always been clear that good working relationships between Code operators and site providers are a key factor in the Electronic Communications Code operating effectively. The Code is premised on the concept that reasonable attempts will be made to negotiate mutually acceptable agreements in the first instance, and that cases will only be referred to the courts where this proves impossible.

We are also bringing forward legislation to deliver gigabit broadband to the majority of new homes at minimal costs to developers.

Government is seeking to amend Building Regulations to require housing developers to provide gigabit broadband unless the costs to the developer exceeds £2000.

To support developers and to ensure as many new homes as possible receive gigabit broadband the Secretary of State has received commitments from the CEOs of Openreach, Virgin and Gigaclear to contribute to the costs of connecting new homes.

These commitments ensure that, taken with the amended Building Regulations, gigabit broadband will be deployed to 99% of new build premises.