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Scotland Consult on Gigabit Broadband for All New Build Homes



The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on new proposals that closely mirror those recently introduced across England (here and here), which would effectively mandate that property developers ensure their new build homes are constructed with support for gigabit-capable broadband connections.

At present every building and building unit in Scotland must already be designed and constructed in such a way that a “high-speed ready” (30Mbps+) in-building physical infrastructure, up to a network termination point, is provided. In the case of a building which contains more than one building unit, a common access point for high-speed electronic communications networks must be provided.

NOTE: Some 70% of premises in Scotland are currently (H1 2023) already within reach of a gigabit-capable connection (here) and over 98% of new build homes across the UK are already being built with support for full fibre (FTTP) infrastructure (here).

In simple terms, the new consultation goes further than that and outlines proposals to amend the existing Building Regulations to ensure that all new build homes are equipped with gigabit-capable (1Gbps+) infrastructure from the outset, with a connection available subject to a cost cap (£2,000). Failing that, the developer would need to install the “next fastest broadband connection” possible, also within the same cost cap.

However, in cases where a connection cannot be provided within the cost cap (e.g. in some remote rural areas or individual private house builds it might not be economically viable), there will be a requirement to install the passive infrastructure (e.g. cable ducts) required to facilitate a connection at a later date.

Suffice to say that the proposals for Scotland are almost an exact mirror of England’s prior update to the Building Regulations, which didn’t automatically apply to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland because the related regulations are a devolved matter. As a result, it also suffers from some of the same caveats, which means there will be edge cases of technical and economic infeasibility, where only slower connections may be provided.

Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Innovation Minister, said:

“The Scottish Government is committed to providing an efficient and resilient digital infrastructure in Scotland, as set out in our National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

The importance of an effective digital connection has been highlighted during recent years. It enhances the way we work, communicate with friends and family and access vital public services.

A key theme of our digital strategy is ensuring that no one is left behind and that is why we are consulting on these proposals, as we look to transition to a fair, green and growing economy.”

The consultation itself will remain open for responses until 12th December 2023. Subject to the outcome of this consultation, Ministers’ are currently proposing to introduce new requirements via amendment of Building Regulations and supporting guidance in early 2024, before bringing the changes into force later in 2024.

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