When you’re in a big city like Glasgow, it’s easy to take connectivity for granted. But did you know that just three years ago we used less than half the data we do now on our home broadband? In fact, average speeds were a third of what they are today. That transformation has had a significant impact on demand from house buyers and tenants.
The internet touches virtually every aspect of our lives – from entertainment to work, and even household tasks like monitoring energy use – and its empowering influence is growing and evolving at pace.
The future is full-fibre broadband – and this is being delivered through Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology, where pure-fibre optic cables connect homes and businesses straight to the exchange, with no interruptions in service, reliability or performance.
Scotland, and the UK’s, network needs to be future-proof so it’s fit for the massive increase of data usage and new technologies we’ll see over the coming years. Making that a reality is well under way: a large-scale FTTP network for the UK is under construction and we are accelerating our FTTP-build programme by 50% to reach three million more homes and businesses by the end of 2020.
However, we know there is much more to do.
While better broadband is now available to more than 95% of premises in Scotland, there’s a challenge to make sure the most hard-to-reach places, also known as the nation’s ‘not spots’, get the connectivity they need.
Of course, Scotland’s terrain poses unique challenges, and population dispersal makes the task of getting fibre to all of them even trickier. We, nevertheless, are committed to bringing full-fibre broadband to as many people and businesses as possible, and fully support all the efforts being made in Scotland to achieve that.
I have seen first-hand how fibre can transform the lives of people up and down the country. We want many more to benefit and that’s why we’ve kicked off our Fibre First programme – with Edinburgh one of the first UK cities to benefit, and parts of greater Glasgow to follow.
Through the scheme, tens of thousands of homes and businesses in each will benefit from a multi-million-pound investment in their digital infrastructure, enabling speeds of up to one gigabit per second, which is about 21 times the current UK average.
But this is just the start. By the end of 2020, we’ll have built full-fibre broadband to three million front doors. And, by the mid-2020s, we want that to be 10 million across the UK, with an ambition to reach the majority of the UK thereafter.
Working with developers will be a critical part of that ambition. If you’re building, renovating or converting a block of flats, having an ultrafast connection will make the building more attractive to new tenants and will help retain existing ones.
In a poll by comparison site Broadband Genie, 78% of people said slow broadband would put them off renting or buying a property. Other studies have also shown that having an ultrafast connection increases the overall value of a property.
There are a variety of ways this can be done – whether by making a new site ‘gigabit’ ready for when occupants place an order with service providers; installing complex data cabling; or auditing new communications infrastructure.
Connectivity can make a real difference to a new construction project, not just to the site itself, but its eventual occupants too – whether they are families living in homes or businesses looking to expand. Build it in from the beginning and it will provide your development with solid foundations.
Brendan Dick, Chair of the Openreach board in Scotland