- Homeowner was led to believe Virgin would be installed in his new home
- A standard BT line was fitted and now working from home is impossible
- The only way to get fibre is to pay £20,000 or wait two years
- Virgin says it made two offers to install fibre to the development
If you buy a new-build home, you would expect it to come with basic utilities such as gas and electricity, running water, and a fast broadband connection, but for one homeowner in Solihull this has not been the case.
Andrew Dickinson, 45, moved to a new-build house in May 2014 with his wife and daughter and was led to believe Virgin fibre broadband would be installed.
He then found out there was only a standard BT line in the home installed by Openreach and to get a fibre connection he could either wait two years or cough up £20,000.
Ever since they moved into the house on the Moat House Fields development, Andrew says internet speeds have been around 4Mbps and this means it’s impossible to work from home and there’s no way to stream anything in high definition.
Andrew Dickinson (pictured with his wife and daughter) can pay £20,000 via his housing estate grouping together to access fibre broadband or wait two years for it
The situation was exposed through an investigation by Cable.co.uk on broadband in new build-homes across the country.
Andrew, a technical consultant for an IT firm, has spoken to Virgin, BT and Persimmon Homes – the housing developer, to try and get an answer.
He was told by Openreach – a subsidiary of BT responsible for broadband cabling – that as Persimmon didn’t install a new cabinet to the estate, the nearest cabinet around 500-700 metres away will never be upgraded to fibre as it’s too small.
The only way to upgrade it was to privately pay £20,000 via the local estate grouping together.
However many of the homes on Andrew’s estate are social housing tenants so he says it’s unlikely they’ll be able to pay the £20,000.
‘No one on the estate can stream HD movies or TV – even streaming standard definition on Netflix or Amazon Prime can result in dropped frames,’ he said.
‘Virgin said that as the developer ignored advances from them, they would have to wait two years before potentially being in a position to install’, he added.
The housing development isn’t covered by the Government’s fibre roll-out because nearby streets have Virgin Media broadband and the closest cabinet isn’t classed as viable for Openreach to upgrade.
Andrew said: ‘If developers worked with BT/Virgin they could then market their estates as being with fast broadband which would actually help sell houses, and perhaps allow them to sell with premium prices so would pay for itself.
‘It’s just rather frustrating. If I’d known the truth I would never have moved, and paid more for a property in a fast broadband area.’
Cable.co.uk says it’s heard from hundreds of people in new-build developments with broadband issues
Andy Peters, managing director at Persimmon Homes South Midlands, said: ‘We can confirm that properties at our Moat House Fields development were sold on the basis that the homes would be fitted with a standard BT line.
‘We endeavour to make sure customers are fully informed when making their house purchase and are naturally disappointed to hear about Mr Dickinson’s concerns.’
However, when we asked Virgin Media to give a response a spokesperson said: ‘We are just as disappointed as Mr Dickinson that we can’t offer him Virgin Media services, especially when he lives so close to homes covered by our fibre network.
‘Virgin Media made two offers to provide 200Mbps broadband to the Moat House Fields development. We made a first offer before construction began, and another when the first residents complained about the lack of superfast broadband to their new homes.
‘Virgin Media is investing £3billion to build faster broadband to more homes in the UK including new build homes. Faster broadband speeds make for happier residents and boost the value of local homes.’
Virgin Media says it made two offers to install fibre broadband into the housing development but instead a standard BT line was fitted
This news comes as residents of a new London apartment block, just minutes from the O2 Arena, have also reported not being able to access broadband or a landline.
The building in Greenwich was completed last year but some residents have been without any sort of connection since September.
Dan Howdle, editor-in-chief of Cable.co.uk, said neither of these cases are unique.
He said: ‘New homes are often chosen as a means to avoid a lot of the problems inherent in older housing. And yet, home builders are selling homes without access to fit-for-purpose broadband, and they are not warning their buyers.
‘We’ve heard from hundreds of people from dozens of new developments up and down the UK over the last 12 months, and the story is always the same.
‘With no obligation under law for either the home builder or the network providers to ensure fast broadband is live on arrival, nor any obligation under law to inform potential buyers that they may face years of inadequate connectivity, buyers are left either to live with inadequate connectivity indefinitely or face the extortionate expense of literally buying their own fibre cabinet.’
A spokesperson from Openreach said: ‘We were contacted by residents at the Moat House Fields development because no companies have plans to connect them with fibre broadband.
‘We understand their frustration, so we’ve been talking to them about a potential co-funded solution.
‘Just last week, Openreach announced a new partnership with developers which aims to deliver fibre to every new housing development in the UK.’
The Government has recently signed a deal to offer fibre to developers for free or as a co-funded scheme
The recent announcement from the Government has set out new measures to improve the connectivity in new-build homes.
It confirmed a new deal with Openreach and the Home Builders Federation (HBF) to improve super-fast broadband for those in new builds.
This will see fibre broadband offered to developers of new-builds either free of charge or as part of a co-funded initiative between Openreach and the developer.
But Howdle said the announcement still leaves the choice of whether a home has fibre or not up to the house builder – not the owner.
Therefore it ‘allows home builders to continue to do exactly what they have been doing: To sell homes with little or no broadband connectivity and without forewarning their buyers,’ he says.
‘As such, it is unlikely to appease the many thousands of families forced to choose between living with little or no connectivity, or selling up and moving on.’
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online