Almost All New Homes in the England Must Have Gigabit Connections: About Time

12-01-2023 | By Robin Mitchell

It is rare for a government to do something right, but in a strange turn of events, the UK government has recently announced new legislation that makes a requirement for almost all new homes in England to have gigabit connections. What challenges does technology introduce, what exactly are the new legislation requirements, and why is this a step in the right direction?

What challenges does technology introduce?

While humanity has come a long way since its emergence, it is only the past 400 years that have seen the most profound changes. From the period of enlightenment to the industrial revolution, the rapid introduction of technological advances combined with new ways of thinking has rapidly changed culture, language, and even attitudes towards others. While such generational changes can be problematic, each new generation has continued to make the world a better place. Hunger is rapidly becoming a fringe issue, diseases are being eliminated, life expectancy is increasing, and the quality of life for most is levelling out. However, one technology, in particular, is starting to present real challenges due to the exponential dependency that modern life has on it; the internet. 

Simply put, no technology has integrated itself into modern life as fast as the internet has since its initial release in the early 1990s. Bills and invoices that used to be posted are now all done electronically. Many banks are eliminating branches entirely for online banking, online shopping dominates global markets, and communication with family, friends, and co-workers is now entirely done through the internet. In fact, the internet has become so important that not having a decent internet connection can literally be crippling, and the COVID pandemic of 2020 demonstrated this clearly. 

But it won’t just be the internet; any technology integration over a short period can introduce challenges for those who lack access. For example, suppose the metaverse becomes massively popular. In that case, those who cannot afford a decent internet connection or the infrastructure needed to interact with the metaverse will suffer, especially if it becomes an essential component in future workforces. Another example of technological access causing issues is semiconductors. The numerous bans placed on China that prevent access to the latest semiconductors are having a very real effect on Chinese technological advances and the economy of China. 

UK legislation requires gigabit connections in all new homes

In recognition of the need for quality internet connections, the UK government has recently introduced new legislation that requires all new homes built in the UK to have gigabit internet access. The change in the Building Regulations (2010) requires that property developers need to install infrastructure that will allow all homes on the premises to access high-speed internet from providers such as British Telecom and Virgin Media, with the goal that each property will be able to stream 4K and 8K video on multiple devices.

Currently, 72% of all homes in the UK have access to gigabit speeds, but the new regulations would see this number increase to 75% such that those purchasing new builds will benefit from the next-generation infrastructure. At the same time, additional laws are being introduced that will target landlords to help upgrade connections to existing dwellings. Still, how this will be implemented will depend on the property and the services available to that dwelling. The need for the additional law comes from the lack of action by landlords to install new infrastructure and the difficulty that internet providers have when trying to provide a tenant in a block of flats with high-speed internet. 

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said:

"Nothing should stop people from seizing the benefits of better broadband, whether it is an unresponsive landlord or a property developer’s failure to act."

"Thanks to our new laws, millions of renters will no longer be prevented from getting a broadband upgrade due to the silence of their landlord, and those moving into newly built homes can be confident they’ll have access to the fastest speeds available from the day they move in."

Why this new legislation is a step in the right direction

It is rare for a government to get something right, but this new legislation is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Modern life’s dependency on internet-based technologies means that anyone who needs access is at a serious disadvantage, and installing high-speed internet connections provides future proofing for emerging technologies (considering that 1Gbps is a significant amount of bandwidth). 

  • The new laws will simplify the process for home buyers, renters, and certain leaseholders to access upgrades for high-speed broadband.
  • The measures will eradicate the issue of landlords who are unresponsive and obstruct tenants from obtaining faster connections.
  • Both of these new laws came into force on December 26 2022.
  • More than seventy per cent of premises can now access gigabit broadband, up from just six per cent in 2019.

Of course, the real challenge will not be those purchasing new homes but those who continue to live in older properties. Those living in housing estates will unlikely suffer from issues with upgrading internet connections as such areas are densely populated and thus highly profitable (in fact, future 6G networks would likely provide broadband and thus eliminate the need for cables). However, those in villages and remote locations will unlikely receive any support for internet connectivity, and many existing government initiatives that try to bring internet connectivity to remote areas don’t even deliver these connections to the end property (they are paid to get close, but not reach the destination).

Overall, the need for a reliable internet connection cannot go understated, with some saying that internet access is a human right (which presents a strong argument when considering that the vast majority of human interactions are now over the internet).


By Robin Mitchell

Robin Mitchell is an electronic engineer who has been involved in electronics since the age of 13. After completing a BEng at the University of Warwick, Robin moved into the field of online content creation, developing articles, news pieces, and projects aimed at professionals and makers alike. Currently, Robin runs a small electronics business, MitchElectronics, which produces educational kits and resources.