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New Building Regs for Broadband

Posted by Geoff Wilkinson on November 30, 2015 at 1:15 PM

 

Building Regs are like busses - You wait ages for a new one - then 2 come along at once! That's right following hot on the heals of Octobers release of Part Q (Security) DCLG have released a draft Part R for Broadband.

So what is this all about and why is a new regulation necessary?

Well you wont be surprised to find that the European Commission is to blame by introducing a legally binding Directive. The directive requires Member States to ensure that new buildings and major renovations are constructed to enable connection to broadband with speeds of no less than 30 Mbit/s. The requirements of the Directive have to be implemented by “laws, regulations and administrative provisions” and the current approach is that implementation must be done at minimum cost and with no gold-plating.

As the European requirement is triggered by the submission of a “building permit” the obvious route to implementation is the Building Regulations.

No additional primary powers will be needed as the Building Act 1984 can be used to extend the current application process which is already a feature of the UK’s approach under Building Regulations. Enforcement and compliance checking will be undertaken by Building Control Bodies as part of their normal functions. Statutory guidance can then be issued (via the Approved Document) that sets out some of the approaches that developers could take to meet the regulatory requirements.

The draft Approved document has been published and under the new proposals all new housing developments, commercial buildings, schools, retail and other buildings will be required to have infrastructure to enable connections to broadband speeds in excess of 30 Mbit/s.

As ever it will be Small builders, particularly in rural areas where even the most basic technology to enable broadband connection may not be available could be hit hard by the new regulations as they will be required to include the basic internet connection infrastructure in order to gain approval .So in the draft guidance DCLG have included an exemption for single dwellings that are remotely isolated and have no prospect of being served by fast access broadband - which presumably are the only ones which wouldn't be fitted with a phone line in the first place.

Putting aside the fact that the regulations therefore seem to serve no purpose (in fact a similar proposal was shelved in 2004 as it was felt that it was unnecessary ) what do the new regulations actually require?

Well there are several ways to build the required infrastructure. For residential and small commercial buildings, they include:

• Broadband provided over networks originally deployed for cable television via a combination of fibre and coaxial cable. These can deliver speeds of up to 152 Mbit/s.

• A combination of fibre and copper technology. This is where fibre is provided between an exchange and a cabinet, and then the existing copper phone line is used to deliver higher speeds of up to 76 Mbit/s.

• Fibre only technology. These networks rely entirely on fibre to connect buildings to the exchange. This delivers speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s.

For single dwellings a hole in the wall connecting an external access point to the network termination point inside the house is required, the unit cost for houses is expected to be around £68. For flats the EU Directive bizarrely only necessitates ducting not the wiring with an estimated cost of £136.

The full consultation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/new-part-r-of-the-building-regulations and closes on 11th Jan 2016



 



 

 


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