Future-proofing new homes with pure fibre infrastructure
Elfed Thomas is the founder and CEO of British Fibre Networks, a pure fibre network infrastructure provider. Here, he outlines why fibre networks are the next innovation in home building…
What do people expect from a new build home? Structural integrity, electricity supply, and access to clean water are some of the necessities that immediately spring to mind. Increasingly, however, good internet connection is being pushed towards the top of the “essential” pile and 54% of people moving into homes that have been newly built expect it to have been built with pure fibre connectivity. Currently, only 4% of UK homes have this.
For builders of social and affordable housing, installing pure fibre infrastructure in their new build homes means they are delivering on societal expectations, future-proofing their homes, and helping to bolster the UK economy – all at no cost to them. It will result in happier occupants, which in turn, leads to long-term tenancies.
It’s not just leisure time or admin tasks that people rely on home broadband for. In today’s hyper-connected world, more and more people are working from home, the gig economy is booming, and digital skills are in demand. This means that good connectivity is integral to many people’s livelihood. Take a freelance web developer as an example – poor connectivity means it could take them hours to upload one website, having a significant impact on their income. Pure fibre means tenants could experience upload and download speeds of up to 1,000Mbps (1Gb) compared to the UK average of 46.2Mbps for downloads and 6.2Mbps for uploads.
Demand on bandwidth – the total capacity provided by the connection – is only going to increase as homes become “smarter”. Smart meters, thermostats, and fridges are already here, and the future of facial recognition technology on our front doors is not too far away. Copper cable, the overwhelming component in our national broadband infrastructure, is simply not sustainable with the pace of technological advancements – even if it is connected to fibre.
Currently, there are a lot of misleading claims surrounding the term “fibre”. Often, “fibre-connected” homes are built with copper still being present somewhere in the connection. Just one small copper link can drastically reduce speeds. How can we build homes fit for the future if we connect them to infrastructure that dates back to the Victorian era?
If housing associations continue to connect their new homes to copper, its inability to cope with current and future demands means the infrastructure will have to be replaced at some point, which could be an expensive and disruptive undertaking. Fibre cables should be laid at the digging stage of new-build constructions, meaning minimal on-site disruption and instant connection for tenants moving in.
Moreover, fibre infrastructure that is independent and is able to connect to a range of Internet Service Providers means housing associations would be providing tenants with a choice of the broadband market. This means they would be able to access faster speeds, at a more competitive price, and won’t be beholden to a provider that gives them a poor service.
These housing providers will be at the forefront in improving the UK’s internet speeds, and help to move us up from our current position of 35th on the global connectivity table – in turn setting a precedent for the private property sector to follow suit. It would also surpass Government policy – in its recent Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport stipulated that all new-build homes should be fitted with full-fibre broadband as standard.
If homes are going to be built with the future in mind, they need to be connected to fibre, not a redundant copper network. Housing associations have led the field in other areas of home innovation such as energy efficiency. Pure fibre infrastructure is the next big opportunity to stay ahead of the curve, and will enable associations to offer some of the best-connected homes in the country.
See britishfibrenetworks.co.uk for more information.