ForHousing has become the first social landlord in the country to upgrade all its high-rise homes to full fibre broadband, thanks to a partnership with the digital network business Openreach.
The pair are fitting gigabit-capable broadband in 17,000 homes in Salford and Knowsley, enabling ForHousing’s tenants to become more digitally connected.
To date, 12,000 homes owned by ForHousing have been fitted with full fibre broadband, including all 17 of its high-rise blocks. The rest of ForHousing’s 24,000+ properties in the North West are set to be upgraded in the coming year.
Jenny Chapman, group director of innovation and excellent at ForViva, ForHousing’s parent company, said: “Digital inclusion is key to fighting poverty, creating routes to work and enabling children to succeed in school.
“We recognise how important digital access is and it is a key aspect of our wellbeing strategy. More than a third of those who are digitally excluded are social housing tenants.”
The move comes as homes across the UK will soon need full fibre to access broadband, similar to the country’s previous switchover from analogue to digital TV.
Openreach, which maintains the infrastructure connecting almost all UK homes to the national broadband network, is currently working to get the country ready for the upgrade to full fibre broadband, which will offer faster, more reliable connectivity.
Like many housing providers, ForHousing is now moving towards providing more of its housing services online and is looking at fibre broadband products which will be affordable for its tenants.
Chapman added: “Providing services digitally is often more convenient and the growing expectation of many tenants who increasingly use digital channels elsewhere. They now expect their landlord to provide similar services.
“The cost of digital transactions is also significantly lower, which enables not for profit organisations to focus more resources where the need is greatest. We all have a lot to gain from helping people get online.”
Kim Mears OBE, Openreach’s managing director for strategic infrastructure development, said: “By working collaboratively with ForHousing we’ve brought some of the UK’s fastest, most reliable broadband within reach of a further 12,000 homes in Salford and Knowsley, with thousands more set to follow.
“Due to wayleaves, and often disinterest by landlords, getting this new technology into apartments and high-rise buildings can be a challenge. ForHousing understand the importance of ensuring their tenants have access to future-proof broadband and have worked with us to overcome obstacles and make it happen.”
Outside the high-rises, work is currently continuing to upgrade existing connections to fibre across the rest of ForHousing’s properties in accordance with social distancing measures.
Image: Charter House in Eccles, Salford, one of ForHousing’s high-rise properties. Credit: ForHousing