David Walker, head of property for Hyperoptic

Today, the average home has 10 connected devices, and this is predicted to rise to 15 by 2020. And this appetite for smart thermostats, smoke detectors, video door bells, CCTV, smart assistants and the like shows no sign of letting up. At work, many offices have been ‘smart’ before the term was even invented – HVAC systems and IP CCTV systems have been automated for years. On the streets, analyst firm Gartner predicts that one in five vehicles will be internet connected by 2025 – paving the way for the next generation of telematics, automated driving, infotainment and mobility services.

Fast and reliable connectivity is key

These devices and services all have one thing in common – they work better when the underlying connectivity is faster and more reliable. Poor connectivity means time lag, lack of operability and devices which depend on video capture and distribution (such as CCTV and infotainment), defaulting to lower resolution, or worse not working at all.

Consumers have wised up the constraints that poor broadband puts on their lives. Research shows that home-buyers are increasingly swotting up on many factors in advance and that provision of hyperfast broadband is now on par of importance with local transport links, nice neighbours and garden space. Over two thirds of Brits (69%) now check their broadband speed before moving home and most incredibly Brits confessed that they would spend 11% more for a property with 100Mbps+ broadband.

The broadband lottery

However, the provision of hyperfast broadband is still a lottery. There’s a myth that poor broadband is an urban/rural issue. It isn’t. Take for example, the City of London only half of homes and business have access to so-called ‘superfast’ broadband running at a download speed of 24 Mbps or above. Today, just 4% of UK premises can access the gold standard of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband. The UK trails behind other developed nations and are currently 32nd out of 34 OECD countries for full fibre. Instead residents and business still find that in many cases, they only have access to copper ADSL/+ broadband, which is severely limited.
The Government recognises that the rollout of full fibre broadband is a national priority. Its target is for 15 million premises to have access to full fibre broadband by 2025, as outlined in its July’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. But how do we get there and ensure the UK is not left behind in the smart building revolution?

Partnerships are key

The biggest ‘game changer’ in recent times has been an understanding between broadband providers and property companies as to what working in partnership can mean for those that work and live in their buildings (and the associated financial pay off).
As with all good ideas, it’s simple to understand. The broadband provider will shoulder the substantial cost of laying fibre to the properties. In return, the broadband provider is then able to market its services to the residents and business – with packages ranging from 30Mbps to 1Gbps. Given that they are offered the fastest broadband in the UK at a range of competitive prices from day one of moving in – often with a free trial – the take up is high. Both the property company and the broadband provider work together on the necessary planning permissions and ensure that local authorities understand the scheme on offer and the benefit for the community.

With all stakeholders pulling together to achieve a common objective it becomes a genuine ‘win win’ for all parties and paves the way for smart devices and services to flourish.