Broadband budget Rural

The Budget and our Broadband: new initiatives helping England stay better connected

Q4 2018

The government announced new plans to roll out full fibre broadband networks in the Autumn Budget. We look at what this means for rural communities.

Stuart Gray

Senior Associate Director, Land Management

+44 1727 738297

Poor broadband connectivity has always been one of the challenges of living in the countryside. The government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, published earlier this year, aims to tackle this with a goal to have a nationwide full fibre network by 2033.

Full fibre networks are faster and more reliable than copper networks, delivering internet speeds greater than 1 gigabit per second.

In his Autumn Budget last month, the Chancellor set out the government’s next steps to accelerate the rollout of these networks across England, including an interim target of 15 million connected premises by 2025.

We look at the government initiatives planned to boost broadband in rural areas and how you can take advantage of them.

£200 for full fibre broadband pilot projects

A further £200 million of funding was announced in the Budget to boost the provision of full fibre internet in some of the hardest to reach areas in England.

The funding will be used to connect primary schools in remote rural areas and set up a voucher scheme to connect nearby homes and businesses to these hubs.

The Borderlands, Cornwall and the Welsh Valleys will be some of the first places to benefit from this funding. Details of how residents and business owners can get involved are still to be released.

Gigabit capable connections to new build homes

A consultation is currently underway on proposals to connect new build properties to gigabit-capable networks.

The proposals suggest network operators should have a ‘duty to connect’ new building sites and the cost of this work should be shared between network operators and site developers.

Only 5% of UK properties are currently connected to full fibre networks. If the government goes ahead with these proposals, buyers of new homes can be sure their property is ready for the technology of the future.

You can read more about what this may mean for housebuilders in our article on the full fibre broadband pledge for new homes.

Upgraded connections for tenants

Getting a fast broadband connection installed to rented properties could be a challenge for both tenants and operators. Unlike other utilities, there’s currently no legal requirement for landlords to provide telecommunications to their tenants.

To install gigabit-capable networks, operators need physical access to properties, which requires permission from the tenant’s landlord. In some cases, network operators are unable to identify or contact this person, meaning they’re unable to install the connection.

The government is proposing to amend the Electronic Communications Code to place an obligation on landlords to facilitate the installation of digital infrastructure in their properties where a tenant has requested it. This could apply to both commercial and residential properties. The consultation on these proposals closes in December 2018.

Local Full Fibre Networks challenge fund

The government’s £190 million Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) challenge fund was launched in 2017 to enable gigabit connections to public buildings in remote rural areas and incentivise operators to connect local homes and businesses to these hubs.

The government recently announced that Suffolk was the first local area to receive £5.9 million of funding from the third wave of the LFFN challenge fund. Earlier this year, Suffolk County Council confirmed their plans to reach 98% coverage of superfast broadband across the county by 2020.

Fully connected rural homes

Don’t want to wait? Here’s our pick of the best-connected rural homes for sale now:

  • Warracott Farm Barns, Devon – set in the beautiful Devonshire countryside 20 miles from Plymouth, this newly-converted two-bedroom barn conversion has fibre broadband and far reaching views.
  • Dilwyn, Herefordshire – if you want historic charm with fast connection speeds, this five-bedroom Grade II listed house is located in a rural village with fibre broadband available.
  • Downs Way, Baunton, Cirencester – this family house in the Cotswolds has Gigaclear fibre broadband and access to excellent schools.