‘My flat was built in 2017 so why can’t I get BT or Sky broadband?’ | Money


Water, gas, electricity and broadband are essential household utilities, but a large number of new homes are being built without the infrastructure for a decent broadband connection – or, in some cases, with no service at all.

Jennifer Offord, 36, bought her new-build flat in Hackney, east London, in February 2018, four months after it had been completed, only to find out she was not able to sign up to any of the standard providers. “I had assumed it would be fine as I had never had a problem before, but when I moved in and asked the developer why I couldn’t sign up to Sky, I was told Openreach hadn’t been set up and I was ruled out of getting any of the affordable TV and internet packages that I wanted,” she says.

Offord asked the developer Taylor Wimpey why her flat had not been set up with Openreach, which would have given her access to providers such as Sky, TalkTalk, BT and Plusnet. The response, she says, was that it had done everything it needed to do when the building was erected, and instead she would have to pick from a limited selection of smaller fibre providers for her broadband connection.

“There is barely any solid information available about the small broadband providers, and at one point I thought I wasn’t going to get any internet at all,” she says.

Despite being worried about some of the reviews she had read online, Offord signed up to the Canterbury-based Vfast, and says she can’t fault the service she has received.

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Offord pays £26 a month for her broadband, without a phone line, which is significantly more than basic broadband packages across the market. But she is not able to sign up to packages where her phone, television and mobile can be tied in.

“Most people go for a package deal, but I couldn’t do that. It’s scandalous that there’s such a lack of choice, and it’s been much more of a pain than I thought it would be,” she adds.

Taylor Wimpey says its focus is on ensuring residents have a fast and consistent broadband connection as soon as they move in.

“For this particular site, Power On, an independent network provider, represented better performance and reliability than the alternative providers in the area (including Openreach). There are also various networks to choose from with Power On, which covers a variety of different packages and budgets,” it adds.

David Walker, head of property for the broadband provider Hyperoptic, says the reason new-builds are still being finished without the proper infrastructure is because it is hard to achieve and “requires dedication from both the broadband provider and the on-site development team coordinating the various elements”.

Last year, one in five new homes were being built without access to superfast broadband, research from the website Thinkbroadband found. It looked at the availability of superfast in new-builds at the start of 2018, and discovered it was 81% compared with around 95% for homes across the country.

A few months ago the government closed a consultation into broadband connectivity in new-build homes. It is working with Openreach and other companies to try to tackle the problem and ensure networks are installed when the sites are being built, not retrospectively.

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport says: “Modern homes should have modern broadband, and too many are still built without thought of including this essential utility. That’s why we have set ambitious targets to have nationwide full fibre broadband coverage by 2033, and are consulting on plans to ensure all new-build homes can access gigabit-capable connections that are fit for the future.”

Meanwhile, research this week by online estate agent Housesimple suggested that ultra-slow broadband speeds could knock a quarter (24%) off the value of a property.



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