High speed connectivity in commercial buildings is becoming a ‘must have’ on occupiers’ wish lists – are you up to speed with the regulations?
Michael Coulthard of Silverstone Building Consultancy outlines some of the key considerations for developers and landlords…
In late 2017, the Government took a decision that effectively means all UK homes and businesses will soon have a legal right to broadband speeds of at least 10 Mega bites per second (Mbps), subject to a cost threshold.
British telecommunications PLC (BT), which is responsible for the infrastructure, had previously offered to carry out improvements according to its own timetable, but must now do so by 2020. Secondary legislation is being processed and OFCOM expect to be able to enforce the legislation within two years.
The decision means developers, residential landlords and commercial landlords must ensure that the servicing and infrastructure in their buildings meet with the necessary requirements.
These requirements are set out in the 2016 Edition of “Physical infrastructure for high speed electronic communications networks” a HM Government Building Regulations - Approved Document R.
In England, the requirements apply to all new buildings and existing buildings that are subject to major renovation works and regulations will cover both residential dwellings and commercial premises.
There are exemptions to the rule, such as small scale works with no sleeping accommodation, where the regulations would not be applicable. These are discussed in further detail with Approved Document R.
The Approved Document introduces a requirement to ensure that buildings are ‘equipped with a high-speed in-building physical infrastructure, up to a termination point for high-speed electronic communications networks’.
Where the work concerned contains more than one dwelling (flats/apartments), the work must be carried out ‘to ensure that the building is equipped with a common access point’.
What this means is that ducts or conduits should be installed from a point outside the building which gives easy access for high-speed communication cables, fibre optics and wires so that they can be easily brought into the building in the future.
Within the modern business environment, millennials are becoming ever more the decision makers and when selecting new premises or refurbishing existing space, the speed of a buildings connectivity and infrastructure is getting higher up the check list of ‘must haves’. Landlords should not only consider competing space in terms of the standard of fit out, but also consider the infrastructure and connectivity of the building to multiple sources.
Investment agents and Asset managers are actively seeking buildings with these capabilities and additional capacity for future proofing. This trend is gathering pace in the South East but is also beginning to filter into the regional hubs.
There is already recognised certification for a building connectivity known as a ‘Wired Score’ rating. A building is rated from platinum down to bronze on various criteria, including the number of alternative broadband providers available to the building occupants. It is common place for the Wired Score ratings to be proudly displayed on marketing particulars to attract new occupants craving high speed connectivity and choice.
For further advice on how to equip your building for these new requirements please contact Michael Coulthard on 0191 231 4263 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org