Lesley Campbell, Commercial Director at GTC Scotland explores multi-utility networks, including broadband, from the Scottish perspective
Scotland is part of the UK but has a devolved government. This means that the house building industry operates in a different environment to the rest of the UK and as such, it is essential that any utility provider understands the different challenges.
GTC is the UK’s largest independent provider of utility networks and infrastructure to the new-build market. It has a wealth of experience across all six utilities, serving over 1.5 million homes and working with all the leading housebuilders across England, Scotland and Wales.
In 2016, GTC opened a Scottish office to ensure it was well placed to understand the different needs and demands of the Scottish construction industry, and the requirement for detailed knowledge and understanding of the building regulations and policies determined by the Scottish Government.
Taking a multi-utility approach
GTC Scotland has developed innovative ways of working to deliver multi-utility networks.
Scottish housebuilders have long recognised the benefits of adopting a multi-utility approach to the procurement and installation of connections for new homes. Sourcing all the utilities needed for sites from a single network provider saves time in the procurement phase by avoiding the need to negotiate with multiple companies to achieve the best deal. The alternative, piecemeal, approach can have implications for the construction phase with schedule clashes, repeated groundworks, and ducting either not laid or crushed by later installations, being among the common problems. In contrast, synchronising the installation of utilities enables the programme to be directly aligned to the developer’s construction schedule. Where a developer needs only deal with one project manager, who co-ordinates and schedules everything, there are clear efficiency and cost-saving gains.
Having an overview of all the trenching and ducting onsite also offers opportunities to identify better methods of installation. GTC Scotland, for example, undertakes all the trenching for water, gas and electricity at one time with all the installation work carried out by its own in-house teams of engineers. The company has also been pioneering a new method of installing fibre networks with much of the construction work now being completed by GTC directly. This removes the need for the housebuilder to lay the duct and chamber network and, therefore, significantly reduces their cost of installation.
GTC Scotland has taken this multi-utility approach one step further with the introduction of full turnkey plot connections teams. Experienced and highly knowledgeable, the teams undertake all the utility connections to new homes in just one visit for faster and more efficient electricity, gas and water connections. GTC’s UltraStream 360 Fibre-to-the-Home broadband networks will be added to the services connected by these multi-utility plot teams in early 2019.
Recognising housebuilders’ need for flexibility and certainty regarding new service connections, GTC Scotland has introduced a 5-day Call Off Initiative for service connections. GTC now only accepts requests for these service connections a maximum of five days in advance but in return, guarantees to complete orders within those five days. This approach gives housebuilders confidence over lead-times, allowing the maximum flexibility for orders to be placed as they are needed.
In a further development, GTC will soon be undertaking the final connections to Scottish Power and SSE Networks (both low voltage and high voltage) with no need for third-party involvement. This, again, streamlines the connections process, keeping as much as possible under the control of the GTC team. In a similar way, the primary site connections to the Scottish Water Mains Network will follow. This will put GTC in full control of delivering the utility infrastructure to new sites, removing any need to wait for the incumbent utility company to make the critical connection of the site network to their grid.
Meeting the demand for ultrafast fibre broadband
The provision of fibre broadband to new homes is the utility that is undergoing the most rapid change. Consumer demand is growing exponentially, with homebuyers looking for ever-increasing capacity and speed and the opportunity to choose the broadband package that is right for them. GTC’s ultrafast fibre broadband networks enable Scottish housebuilders to meet these expectations. GTC’s Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) networks deliver 360Mbps and are future-ready, with fibre all the way into each property, capable of speeds up to 1 Gbps. The networks are open access, offering a choice of ISPs so that the homeowner can choose the speed and package that meets their needs and fits their budget and the services – data, voice, TV, and SKY TV – that they require. GTC Scotland is already installing fibre to thousands of new homes across Scotland including 4,000 homes in the new town of Tornagrain and has a further five projects in progress. Importantly, homeowners will find the fibre connection, along with their other utilities, ready from the day they move in.
New homes for Scotland
The demand for new homes in Scotland shows no sign of reducing. With so much pressure to deliver new housing, housebuilders and developers need to have confidence in their utility supply chain. GTC, with its expertise and understanding of the Scottish housebuilding environment, is already delivering connections to thousands of new homes.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
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