Development projects will need to be ready to meet the EU Broadband Cost Reduction Directive (2014/61/EU) requirements this summer. The changes it requires have important implications for the development sector. Tracey Sheehan, partner in our Technology sector, explains the implications of the new directive.
Need for speed
The Directive sets out measures to enable and reduce the costs of deploying high speed broadband networks as well as improving in-building infrastructure.
These new rules must be implemented in the UK by 1 July 2016 and will be transposed by Building Regulations.
Broadband Ready Obligations
Any newly constructed buildings and those undergoing major renovation (for which a building permit application is submitted post 31 December 2016) must be ‘broadband ready’. That means:
- buildings must be equipped with physical infrastructure (such as mini-ducts) capable of hosting high speed networks in excess of 30Mbit/s. This does not require the installation of cabling but will require an access point for necessary cabling;
- developers of multi-occupancy buildings (new and major renovations) are required to provide an access point and ducting to each individual dwelling up to the network termination point;
- communications access points and associated in-building infrastructure must be accessible to all communications network operators (under fair and non-discriminatory terms).
In implementing the new measures, the UK is entitled to allow for exemptions from the broadband ready obligations (e.g. where the costs would be disproportionate or in respect of historic buildings (i.e. listed or specific buildings in conservation areas), etc.)
Broadband Ready Label
To assist potential buyers and tenants, the Directive envisages the development by Member States of a “broadband ready” label for buildings. The label can be given both to buildings equipment with infrastructure and access points complying with the Directive’s standards.
The construction industry understands the significance of considering broadband connectivity at the outset of any development. The availability of connectivity will impact upon demand, marketability and rental income/price of any new major office, retail or residential development.
The new requirement to retro-fit in-building infrastructure where major renovation works are carried out is likely to have a much greater impact than the requirement for new buildings. We expect to see much debate in respect of what does or does not amount to a major renovation.