Be Sure Of Your Connections

Helen Garthwaite and Claire Haynes consider broadband challenges for the next generation of buildings. This article was first published in RICS Construction Journal for April-May 2016.

When carrying out a construction or refurbishment project, the property industry now recognises the importance of considering broadband connectivity at the outset. Marketability, value and rental income are likely to decline for both residential and commercial buildings if there is limited connectivity. This is a concern both for landlords and for occupiers who need premises that can be used by businesses. Funders are sinking debt into buildings so capital value and rental income must be protected to ensure a return on investment; meanwhile, developers must provide buildings that are fit for purpose and comply with all requisite standards. Modern and flexible electronic communications cabling and infrastructure is thus needed to meet the long-term needs of building owners and users.

Legislative framework

It is widely acknowledged that the Electronic Communications Code (the code) needs a substantial overhaul. It is struggling to support the efficient roll-out of superfast broadband infrastructure and the sophisticated relationship between electronic communications network operators and site providers.

The coalition government took initial steps to reform the code by launching a consultation, a response to which is awaited. There was further good news in July 2015 when the government published its productivity plan, Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation (, in which it commits to:

Introduce legislation to reform the code during the first session of this parliament Roll out superfast broadband of at least 24 Mbps to 95% of UK households and businesses by 2017 in line with the European Commission's Digital Agenda, which sets targets for broadband speeds and coverage. The EU Broadband Cost Reduction Directive

Directive 2014/61/EU sets out measures to enable and reduce the costs of deploying high-speed electronic communications networks, as well as to improve buildings' internal infrastructure. Legislation implementing the directive's measures must be in place this year, and at the end of November 2015, the government issued two separate consultations: the first on implementation, and the second specifically addressing use of Building Regulations to include minimum requirements for the internal broadband infrastructure of...

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