Broadband now the ‘4th utility’ – according to the public and housing industry

Hyperoptic unveils new research assessing the key factors motivating home movers and the developers that build and maintain property. The study is one of the largest of its kind, some 228 housing professionals and 2,000 homeowners or renters were quizzed about their expectations regarding property.

The clear finding is that broadband is now the ‘4th utility’ – on a par with water, gas and electricity. Some 86% of the public claim that having a decent connection in their property is ‘important’ to them whilst 64% said they would be ‘put off’ by a home with slow Wi-Fi. Overall, over half (54%) said they are ‘more likely’ to purchase or move into a property with a good internet connection.

This feedback is reflected by the property industry with 60% of respondents rating ‘reliable, fast, fibre connectivity’ as critical and ‘the fourth utility’. A further 32% defined it as ‘a key attractor’ for buyers and renters. Henry Pethybridge, Director of Wiredscore Home provided an interesting anecdotal example of the importance of connectivity: “When the water went down at a development in Leeds, we didn’t get any communication from tenants for six hours. When the internet went down, we had complaints from tenants within two minutes.”


Over a third of the public (35%) stated their priorities have changed over the past five years when it comes to house hunting and the internet is at the heart of this. A quarter of people say they work from home on a regular basis and therefore rely on broadband. Almost half – 47% – want a decent broadband connection to keep in touch with their friends and family, and four in 10 use it for streaming TV shows and films. 

However, many within the housing industry believe it has been slow to catch up with these changing trends. Some 62% described the industry as being ‘slow’ or ‘very slow’ to introduce technologies including fibre optic broadband and smart energy saving devices with 28% stating that technologies had been brought in as and when they were viable.

There is a recognition within the industry that more needs to be done. Two thirds  (66%) of those in the property industry describe ‘the internet’ as the most important technologies of the last hundred years. Jon Di Stefano, CEO, Telford Homes stated the reality of the situation today as: “People wouldn’t even tell you they want fast Wi-Fi now because they just expect it and if it doesn’t have that, you’re in trouble.”

Futurist, Tom Cheesewright, concludes: ”Sat behind this world of experiences is the hard reality of the technologies that underpin it, but also the challenges that we face in building, heating, powering, and maintaining our homes. Someone must provide the infrastructure to power it all.”

The research was commissioned by Hyperoptic, the UK’s leading full fibre broadband provider. Charles Davies, MD ISP for Hyperoptic, said: “The results show the level of importance both residents and the property sector places on reliable, fast broadband. Whilst talk of it being the ‘4th utility’ has been around for some time now, this research proves it’s no exaggeration. For those in the property sector, the message is simple – residents expect fast reliable broadband and providers such as Hyperoptic are on hand to install lightning-fast services at no cost to them.”

The full report can be downloaded here

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