Broadband: The 4th Utility?

Broadband: The 4th Utility?

PHPD speaks to Rich Robinson, MD at Grain, to find out more about the options when it comes to connecting to the Internet.  

Q: Why don’t we have access to FTTP broadband more widely across the UK? What kinds of solutions are housebuilders currently offering their customers?
Most existing homes in the UK are not fitted with the fibre cables necessary to receive hyperfast broadband or, indeed, are unable to receive fast broadband at all unless they are retrofitted. While many new homes benefit from fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection, the vast majority of these broadband connections are delivered via old copper cables, which have a lower bandwidth and a limited capacity to deliver high speeds.

Although we’re starting to see more providers offering fibre broadband, chances are that customers will be unable to access the speeds promised unless builders look to include more true fibre cable solutions in their developments.

Q: What is hyperfast broadband and why should housebuilders be delivering this level of connectivity to customers?
Hyperfast broadband is the fastest internet connection currently available in the UK, available via a ‘true’ fibre optic network. A ‘true’ fibre network includes a single separate connection from every living room, uncontended by other providers and capable of providing broadband speeds over 1,000Mbs per second. That’s 35 times faster than the UK average.

To put this into context, a high-quality 90-minute film would normally take three hours to download using one of the major broadband providers. On the Grain network – a true fibre optic network offering a hyperfast connection – this would take around 10 minutes.

Q: What trends are you seeing in broadband usage? What do residents really want?  
Over the past year, we have observed a 10% month-on-month increase in customer downloads. If this trend is to continue – which is highly likely – we will see a 300% increase in downloads in 2018. Such a dramatic increase in activity will naturally result in customers demanding faster, more reliable speeds.

Housebuilders need to look at offering this level of connectivity now, as a standard offer, in order to future-proof their developments.

“Increasing numbers of people are going to expect faster, more reliable broadband – as a built-in offer – when looking at buying their new home.”

Q: What support do you provide to ensure broadband can be incorporated into existing and new house designs and onto new developments?
For us and for the developers, connecting residents on ‘move-in day’ is a non-negotiable. Given that every development is different, we work closely with project managers to ensure that our service joins their multi-utility plan seamlessly and effectively, collaborating to solve any unforeseen site issues. This gives us the opportunity to be flexible in our approach, creating a tailored solution for each site.

Q: What relationship do you have with housebuilders and their customers?
Commercially, we work in similar ways to other providers by offering a rebate to housebuilders. We also install our network at no cost to the builder. Our solution is completely risk-free, allowing builders to offer a true fibre network to new customers – available from the very first day they move in.

We take a holistic approach with every project, aiming to take the hassle of broadband and connectivity off the shoulders of developers. We design, integrate, install, operate and maintain the network ourselves.

Q: Does your service include options like phone and entertainment services?
We offer a range of add-on products and services – from phone lines, entertainment packages and connecting all smart home technologies – allowing us to deliver a bespoke offer depending on our customer’s technology needs.


Fast internet connectivity is increasingly important for house buyers

Q: Do you believe that broadband will become the 4th utility?
You wouldn’t expect to move into a new home without water, gas or power. Now, more and more residents would refuse to complete their move until their new home is connected with fast and reliable broadband. From our experience, it is for this reason that housebuilders are already treating broadband like they would a utility – it is simply not an option to sell a house that does not have an Internet connection.


Q: How do you think housebuilders can build upon their provisions to offer a wider array of solutions within a home?
With the wider adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its growing abilities, the requirement for a faster and reliable connection will become increasingly important – if not essential.

As more people start to adopt smart devices and technologies to create the ultimate connected home, the demand for hyperfast broadband will continue to grow.

By installing a true fibre connection in every home during the development process, housebuilders can get ahead of the game by offering residents the hyperfast broadband connection they want – now, and well into the future.

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