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UK Local Government Association calls for new build fibre to the premises kitemark

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The UK’s Local Government Association (LGA) has called for housing developers to adopt council proposals for a fibre to the premises (FTTP) kitemark for new build homes to make it clear to prospective buyers what they can from the internet connection in their new property.

Developers currently only have an obligation to connect water and electricity before a property is sold. And, said the LGA, while the government’s new draft of the National Planning Policy Framework aims to help councils encourage developers to provide FTTP connections to existing and new developments, it does not give them powers to hold developers to account. The association believes that introducing a new FTTP kitemark is a common-sense proposal that will make it clear to the public whether or not their new home will have a fully future-proofed internet connection.

Cllr Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s people and places board, said: ‘The standard of digital connectivity we provide to our new build homes should reflect our national ambition to roll out world-class digital infrastructure across the country. Residents will no longer tolerate digital connectivity taking a backseat in developers’ plans.

‘We call on the government, homebuilders and the broadband industry to work with us and develop the details of this proposal and give homebuyers the confidence to invest in a new home, knowing they won’t be stuck in the digital slow lane.’

Mark Collins, director strategy and policy at CityFibre has responded to the announcement. He said: ‘Access to high-quality internet access is of enormous importance to UK residents, with around one in three admitting that it has become as important to them as electricity, gas and water, and a quarter going as far as saying that they couldn’t function without it.

‘We also know that having access to next generation internet access delivered over full fibre infrastructure can add significant value to property – a figure that’s been calculated to be worth at least £7 billion nationally over the next 15 years.

‘Full fibre is the only infrastructure capable of delivering the reliable gigabit speed services and futureproofed capacity the UK needs. We fully support the LGA’s call for the launch of a FTTP kitemark, which will give full fibre - the gold standard in internet connectivity - the status and recognition it deserves.

‘Consumers have been misled for decades by advertising practices which allow copper-based broadband products to be advertised as ‘fibre’. The introduction of a kitemark, however, will help consumers know what they are paying for and what standard they should expect.

‘By improving awareness and increasing demand for that gold standard, consumers, government, local authorities and industry can collaboratively drive the roll-out of full fibre across the UK, helping it to catch up with the rest of the world.

‘Ultimately, this isn’t just about residential broadband speeds, this is about driving real and meaningful economic growth in all parts of the country for the long term. The FTTH Council in the USA, has calculated that providing full fibre to just half of all premises in any given location could result in a 1.1 per cent rise in annual GDP. This figure applied to our own research based on 100 UK town and city economies, suggests an economic impact in excess of £120 billion. This is a figure that cannot be ignored.’

Fibre has been high on the agenda for the UK government, with the 2018 Spring statement revealing the first wave of allocated funding under its Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) scheme, which will provide more than £95 million for 13 areas across the UK (see UK government allocates £95 million for 13 local full-fibre broadband projects in first wave of funding).

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