Our team are available on 01225 462871. Alternatively, complete the Contact Form below.
Is there a legal right to internet access?
Many people have long considered the right to internet access essential to an individual’s right to freedom of expression. However, that argument is normally applied in the context of a state’s actual or perceived attempts to restrict its citizens’ freedom to connect. And currently, in the UK, no such general legal right exists.
However, new legislation has created greater internet access rights for specified groups.
Faster internet access in new builds
As a result of an update to The Building Regulations 2010, from 26 December 2022, developers must equip all newly built homes in England with gigabit broadband connections. Gigabit internet refers to high-speed internet delivering download speeds of at least one gigabit per second.
However, the requirement is subject to a £2,000 cap. The cap means that a developer is not required to install gigabit internet in a property if they cannot do so for less than £2,000. But in such cases, they are still required to install infrastructure in the property capable of running gigabit internet. They must also provide the fastest connection available within the parameters.
Faster internet access in blocks of flats
Tenants in blocks of flats now have an alternative method of arranging faster internet. The procedure usually requires the landlord to grant permission for the broadband company to install the necessary equipment. Under the new legislation, however, which came into force on 26 December 2022, if a landlord fails to respond to a broadband company’s access request within 35 days, the company can seek access via the courts.
The Universal Service Obligation
But these changes are not the only laws supporting rights to internet access. The Universal Service Obligation (USO) created under the authority of the Digital Economy Act 2017 gives people the right to request an upgraded internet connection from BT (for home or business). The right exists if they currently cannot receive a download speed of ten megabits per second and an upload speed of one megabit per second.
BT must conduct checks and respond within 30 days, confirming whether the property is eligible for an upgraded connection. Among the factors making a property ineligible is if a public broadband service will cover it within the next twelve months. Before the upgrade, BT must provide eligible properties with information about costs, usually covered if the work costs less than £3,400.
Must landlords provide internet access?
Landlords have no legal obligation to provide internet services for tenants. Indeed, if a tenant wishes to install internet in a way requiring changes to the property, such as drilling holes in walls, they usually require the landlord’s consent. Depending on the circumstances, the tenant may also require the consent of a head landlord. Tenants should always obtain permission in writing.
However, most landlords now recognise that by at least providing the infrastructure for internet access, they improve the property’s attractiveness to potential tenants.