Many new build homes still missing full-fibre connectivity

New homes with ultrafast broadband are becoming increasingly common, but you can’t take high-speed connectivity for granted

Wednesday, 14 July, 2021

There are good reasons why new homes tend to be at the forefront of high-speed domestic internet connectivity.

Installing fibre broadband into existing areas is time-consuming and frustrating. There are council applications to be made, pavements to be dug up, irate neighbours to be dealt with…

By contrast, laying fibre cabling on a building site is simplicity itself. In many cases, the ground has already been dug up in preparation for other utility cables.

Providing the broadband company arrive on-site at a sufficiently early construction stage, they can install high-speed connectivity to future residents quickly and easily – and cheaply.

That makes it cost-effective to build and market new homes with superfast broadband.

This in turn is appealing to both builders (as a tempting standard specification) and buyers, who increasingly choose new homes for extra workspace and home office potential.

However, not all new homes are created equal…

Super market sweep

Don’t assume new homes with superfast broadband are the norm, because despite government promises on the fibre rollout, the UK’s property market is highly fragmented.

A family builder constructing a small courtyard development in the countryside will face very different issues from a volume builder populating a city centre gap site.

Indeed, the latest figures suggest that only around 90 per cent of new homes constructed in 2020 incorporated full fibre broadband.

These are likely to be in urban areas, where there are plentiful telephone exchanges and high-speed cabling already in situ – plus competition from established and startup ISPs alike.

More worryingly, around three per cent of new homes don’t even have superfast broadband pre-installed.

(That’s any connection capable of average download speeds above 30Mbps.)

As the slowest of the Fibre to the Cabinet connections, superfast broadband is roughly three times as fast as the telephone-based ADSL services some rural new-builds are sold with.

Has the pandemic had any effect?

The proportion of new homes with superfast broadband doesn’t appear to have been affected by the various lockdowns over the last 15 months.

The proportion of new homes sporting full fibre has soared from around 40 per cent in 2015 to over 90 per cent in 2020, but the proportion without superfast connections hasn’t changed.

Construction output has plummeted, though. It remains subdued due to a chronic shortage of building materials, and in some cases a lack of workers.

So while new homes with superfast broadband are ubiquitous in theory, finding one for sale may be rather trickier.

What can I do?

If you’re considering a new property, speak to the on-site sales team about connectivity.

Even if they don’t know about technical matters like ONT installation, they’ll be able to find someone on-site who does.

They might already have marketing literature from one of the many hyperfast, hyperlocal full fibre companies pre-cabling new-build estates.

You may not be able to get line speed estimates until at least one property in your new postcode (or along your street) has been registered with the Royal Mail and/or Openreach.

However, previous phases of construction should give you a good indication of expected speeds.

Housing development rarely have different internet speeds, even when rival builders are working on different phases simultaneously.

You can also examine the coverage maps of mobile networks, illustrating whether 5G coverage is available.

This isn’t a fixed-line broadband substitute, but it’s handy for mobile devices, and invaluable for temporary connectivity through a MiFi dongle when you first move in.

It can take days (and even weeks, in some cases) to get broadband up and running when you take possession of a new home.

Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!