Whitecode

DELIVERING A GIGABIT-READY INFRASTRUCTURE: WHAT APPROVED DOCUMENT R MEANS FOR DEVELOPERS

22 Mar 2023

New regulatory requirements for developers to install gigabit-ready infrastructure and gigabit-capable broadband connections in new homes came into force in December 2022. This will future-proof homes for faster broadband speeds, but what does this mean for developers? As part of the series of updated Building Regulations, the government has mandated that developers install the fibre broadband infrastructure and connections that support gigabit speeds as a part of the construction process. Whitecode discusses the practical implications of these changes and how it can support developers throughout the process.

Approved Document R provides guidance on how to comply with requirement RA1 and requirement RA2 of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations, which respectively deal with the installation of gigabit-ready physical infrastructure and a connection to a gigabit-capable public electronic communications network when new dwellings are erected.

Julia Lopez, Minister of State, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport commented on Approved Document R: “Ensuring that all new build homes in England are built with gigabit-ready infrastructure and gigabit-capable connections will be a significant step towards delivering world-class digital infrastructure to the UK.”

These changes are essential for ensuring that homes across the UK are future-proofed for faster broadband speeds. Developers must ensure new homes are installed with gigabit-ready physical infrastructure necessary for gigabit-capable connections (consisting of physical infrastructure including ducts, chambers and termination points) up to a network distribution point, or as close as is reasonably practicable where the developer does not have the right to access land up to the distribution point.

Additionally, developers must provide a gigabit-capable connection composed of equipment such as an optical fibre cable or other technological means of facilitating such a connection, subject to a £2,000 cost cap per dwelling.

Providing Evidence of a Gigabit-Ready Infrastructure

Once the infrastructure has been planned, developers should provide the necessary information demonstrating how the proposed approach complies with requirement RA1 to a building control body. The information should also detail whether any exemptions are to be relied upon. Particulars as part of a connectivity plan would further assist the building control body if they contain evidence to demonstrate the location of gigabit-ready physical infrastructure. This could take the form of schematic diagrams, maps setting out the site layout and written evidence.

Where full fibre connections are not available, other means of providing gigabit-capable public electronic communications network connections – such as Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification (DOCSIS 3.1) or a fixed wireless access technology – should be explored before pursuing a next fastest broadband connection

At Whitecode, we highly recommend the installation of a high-speed fibre network from a reputable network operator such as Openreach, Hyperoptic, or Virgin Media. Openreach, Virgin Media, and Hyperoptic can provide an option for developer self-install and will supply cabling and distribution equipment to a developer free of charge, with the chosen contractor responsible for installing containment and running cables. The chosen network provider will then connect cabling within the distribution points throughout the building on a multi-occupancy building. The same applies to individual dwellings where they will install up to the master outlet within the demise.

We can arrange all site works from the supplier through our stats department and will deal with all planning and design works for the network from initial application to project completion. On the rare occasion an Openreach or equivalent network has not been proposed, Whitecode will ensure that spare duct routes, internal cable routes and adequate service void space are provided for implementation of a network at a later date.

Considering the Latest Wireless Options

Whitecode can advise on options for individual dwelling wireless equipment including routers, network switches and access points and this would be applicable to common areas also. Our team has worked with Hyperoptic and Openreach who utilise off-site infrastructure on many schemes (Virgin Media use their own) but can secure higher data transmission speeds from the network for the end user.

However, there are several alternative telecoms providers Whitecode has used in the past that can also provide a similar solution. The majority of the communications providers such as Openreach, Hyperoptic and Virgin Media, provide routers that are suitable for gigabit transmission speeds.

Future-proofing Developments

The purpose of the requirements is to future-proof buildings for the fastest broadband speeds possible. Because the requirements are technologically neutral, developers will install the most appropriate gigabit-capable infrastructure for individual developments. Where a gigabit-capable connection is not being installed, developers should work with network operators to provide the next fastest broadband connection which can be installed without exceeding the £2000 cost cap.

Generally, any network wiring within the apartment can exceed gigabit transmission speeds and Whitecode can advise on the correct selection of routers and necessary equipment to meet the correct performance requirements. When working with Whitecode, we will ensure the equipment and cabling within a dwelling is suitable for in excess of gigabit transmissions speeds.

How will the Cost Cap be Calculated?

Openreach, Hyperoptic and Virgin Media provide cabling and equipment free of charge so there is not usually an issue with the associated cost cap being exceeded. The suppliers are undertaking their own infrastructure works to bolster their network transmission speeds and the costs are covered by the providers themselves so this would not add extra cost to the developer.

In support of the government’s gigabit-ready infrastructure plan, these network providers have put their own ambitious plans in place. In 2021, Virgin Media completed the upgrade of its entire national network to gigabit speeds, delivering nearly two-thirds of the Government’s broadband ambition four years ahead of the target date and cementing the company’s status as the UK’s largest gigabit provider. In 2022, Hyperoptic hit its target of connecting over 100,000 new build homes to its full fibre network. It also has agreements in place to connect a further 100,000 new build properties within the following twelve months. Openreach aims to deliver Ultrafast full Fibre Broadband to 25 million homes and businesses by December 2026.

Which Network Operator is Best?

Whitecode highly recommends the installation of a high-speed fibre network from Openreach, Hyperoptic, Virgin Media or the like. Openreach can provide an option for developer self-install and will supply cabling and distribution equipment free of charge to a developer with the chosen contractor responsible for installing containment and running cables. Openreach will then connect cabling within the distribution points throughout the building on a multi-occupancy building. The same applies to individual dwellings where they will install up to the master outlet within the demise.

We can arrange all site works from the supplier through our stats department and will deal with all planning and design works for the network from initial application to project completion.

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