MILLIONS of people living in flats could get faster internet speeds under plans to bypass difficult landlords who make upgrade work difficult.
A law is being put forward that could mean an extra 3,000 residential buildings a year will be connected to gigabit speeds, according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Gigabit broadband is 30 times the speed of superfast broadband, making it possible to download a high definition film in less than 45 seconds.
Operators need permission from the building’s owner to enter and do the necessary work. But this can be slow when landlords ignore access requests. Internet service providers say two in five landlords do not respond.
Companies can turn to the courts but this can be lengthy, uncertain and costly. Nicky Morgan, the Digital Secretary, who is visiting a block of flats in Coventry being connected to gigabit-capable broadband today, said: “We’ve announced £5 billion so people in rural communities will get gigabit speed internet at the same time as everyone else.
“And we’re now making sure people living in blocks of flats and apartments are not left behind.”
The Government says a streamlined system could lower the time operators have to wait from six months to around six weeks and cost £300 instead of an about £14,000. Lutz Schuler, of Virgin Media, said: “This law is something Virgin Media has long called for. It breaks through a major broadband barrier as we invest to bring gigabit speeds to our entire, ever-growing network.”
David Smith, the policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, said: “We recognise how important it is that tenants should have access to high speed broadband. It is in a landlord’s interests to be able to offer it as it makes their properties more attractive to prospective tenants.
“The RLA will work with the Government to ensure any difficulties in implementing enhanced access rights are addressed such as broadband companies ensuring they have the right contact details for a landlord.”
Boris Johnson has made faster internet connections one of his goals as Prime Minister, saying he wants full fibre available across the country “for all by 2025”.