House builders claim broadband a ‘selling point’

Do we need new regulations?

House builders in the US are increasingly including broadband connections and IT-related wiring when building new homes.

InStat/MDR found that it's not just homes at the top end of the market (more than $1m) that \re getting the hi-tech treatment, but also houses selling for less than $250,000.

InStat/MDR's research found that three quarters of those developers questioned had installed broadband into some of their new housing schemes, with half using broadband as a selling point.

Indeed, in residential housing estates some believe a broadband network could be the modern answer to creating a sense of community.

However, the research also revealed that less five per cent of developers thought that the inclusion of broadband access in a new property would be a critical selling point for potential homebuyers.

Said In-Stat/MDR analyst, Amy Cravens: "Broadband...is being used to attract new residents with high-speed connections and robust service packages.

"However, despite the numerous potential benefits to home buyers enabled through broadband connections, developers do not see broadband networks and advanced in-home wiring as being a critical decision criterion for the homebuyer.

"Compared to other community and home features, such as home design and community location, broadband and networking technologies ranked considerably lower in importance when developers were asked what they believed was important to home buyers."

Although this research is from the US, it could prove to be a useful pointer for house builders in the UK, where the Government has just begun a consultation into whether building regulations should be amended to help boost broadband take-up.

The Government is asking the building and telecoms industry whether demand for broadband services is being hampered because of the inconvenience of installing advanced telecoms services.

The consultation came around following work by the Government's Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) which suggested that Government should "...consult with the building industry and broadband service providers to identify the best approach to ensure cable ducting is installed in all new buildings".

The concern is that some people might be put off because installing broadband and other IT services might mean having to drill holes in wall and lift floorboards to lay new cable.

The alternative is to ensure that all new housing comes ready-fitted with ducting and terminal boxes that are ready to take cabling without too much effort.

Of course, the Government has stressed that it will only include this into formal building regulations "if the consultation provides solid evidence for the benefits of such a change" and that it would lead to the increased take-up of broadband.

Of course, there are many "ifs" and "buts" with this whole issue - not least surrounding the idea of how broadband technology will develop over the coming years and whether there will even be a need for cable ducting if it is bypassed by more affordable wireless technologies.

However, in a move that mirrors what's happening in the US, its seems more and more house builders in the UK are including broadband and ducting in their new properties.

A spokesman for the House Builders' Federation (HDF) told The Register that the provision of broadband and IT cabling can be a strong selling point for new homes - especially since more and more punters are demanding this kind of feature.

The question is, can this be done without the need for more red tape and regulation? While the HDF appears to be all in favour of developing "smart(er) homes", it remains unconvinced - at the moment at least - that such measures should be made mandatory and believes it should be up to the market to decide. ®

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