Property website Rightmove has added a broadband tool to help buyers check on the sort of broadband speeds they can expect when choosing a new home. Bernard Phillips of Rightmove says, “broadband has become ingrained in people’s lives and is an important factor when choosing a home.” Another property expert, Henry Pryor, has gone on record in today’s Observer in maintaing that a home without even a basic broadband connection could be worth 20% less than a comparable property.
Harriet Mayer, writing for the Observer, says that many households, particularly some in rural and hard-to-reach areas are stuck on speeds of 2Mbps or less:
That can make anything aside from sending and receiving emails a struggle. The government’s rollout of the superfast network to reach 95% of the UK, promising downloads at more than 30Mbps, has been pushed back to 2017. The latest figures from the communications regulator, Ofcom, show that 73% of the country is currently able to access these speeds.
Henry Pryor makes the valid point that broadband is now regarded as the fourth utility after gas, water and electricity. I would go further: It is probably considered as even more important than gas. At least it is possible to get by on electricity and oil if there is no gas but there is no substitute for a fast broadband connection.
In areas with higher-value properties such as parts of London, the gap between homes connected to speedy fibre optic networks and those relying on the telephone service will grow and will distort the market. People are relying ever more on ultra-fast broadband for downloading media and, simply, for the experience of web browsing.
We are lucky to be in a Virgin Media area for cable television and broadband services and the service continues to get faster. The current 120Mbps connection is to be upgraded to 152Mbps in the summer and this will further widen the gap between prime areas of the country and those still relying on the much slower speeds possible over copper wire.
A 20% discount to the market is probably an extreme case but I have no doubt that the quality of broadband connection will become increasingly important when choosing where to live.