New law will give telcos easier access to apartment blocks

(Image credit: Devolo)

The government is introducing a new law that will make it easier for broadband operators to install and upgrade connections in blocks of flats.

Under the present system, providers have to request permission to access the building to do their work, however 40 per cent of all applications receive no response. The only other course of action is to go through the courts, which can be a time consuming and expensive process.

A cheaper and faster process will now be introduced in instances where landlords have failed to respond to a request for access. The timeframe would be reduced from months to just weeks.

Gigabit broadband

Operators have frequently complained about the situation and now the government, eager to ensure the vast majority of the UK has access to ultrafast broadband, has taken action.

“We’re now making sure people living in blocks of flats and apartments are not left behind and can reap the huge benefits of the fastest and most resilient internet connections,” said Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan.

The current government target for switching off the UK’s copper network is 2033, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants this brought forward to 2025. The industry has said such an ambitious goal isn’t out of the question – but only if regulations are favourable and government financial support is present.

The government believes that up to 80 per cent of the country will be covered by commercial deployments from BT and others, but wants industry to go further. Some have placed the total cost of extending coverage nationwide – including rural areas – at £30 billion.

A package of £5 billion was unveiled by the government earlier this month, but the industry wants more to be done, arguing red tape and other restrictions are limiting the capacity to invest. Making it easier to access properties is step in the right direction.

It is claimed an extra 3,000 buildings will be connected to gigabit speeds a year as a result of the new legislation.

“This new law is something Virgin Media has long called for – it breaks through a major broadband barrier as we invest to bring gigabit speeds to our entire, ever-growing network,” said Lutz Schüler, CEO of Virgin Media. “Giving broadband builders clear and efficient access rights will mean the many forgotten flats across the country can get the next-generation connectivity they deserve.”



Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.