BT Infinity Abandons Kensington And Chelsea Over Ugly Cabinets

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BT withdraws from London borough after it objects to street cabinets

BT has confirmed that it has abandoned its plans to bring fibre broadband to Kensington and Chelsea after the London Borough objected to the installation of cabinets in its “historic streetscapes”.

The council said that BT had refused to compromise on the design and number of the cabinets, but BT has hit back, saying that 34,200 premises will be affected by its withdrawal.

London calling

btfibrecabinet - Azzin on AVForums“We can confirm we have ceased deployment of fibre broadband in Kensington and Chelsea. This is unfortunate but we were left with no option after having the vast majority of our applications rejected by the council,” said BT in a statement. “Other councils, including those of neighbouring boroughs, have shown a greater eagerness to enjoy the benefits of fibre broadband. We will therefore re-focus our engineers’ efforts in other areas where planning authorities have taken a positive approach and are keen to ensure their residents and businesses can benefit from this technology.”

Kensington and Chelsea rejected BT’s applications on the grounds that it had not worked with it to ensure that its environment was protected, including its streets and listed buildings.

“BT was seeking permission for 108 cabinets, many of them in sensitive locations. It would not compromise on the number, or on the design,” said the council. ““It would not use sites that already had unused BT equipment and it would not consider putting the equipment underground or any other method.”

Historic speeds

“We regret that BT are not proceeding with superfast broadband in the Royal Borough but virtually the whole borough is already covered by superfast broadband with Virgin, who obviously appreciate the very valuable market the borough represents,” it added. “Virgin have been able to do this without ruining our historic streetscape. They will also consider extending to the few streets they do not already cover in the borough if demand is there.”

However BT has dismissed these claims, adding that they proved not to be a problem in the other London Boroughs it had deployed fibre.

“Whilst I’m sure the residents of Kensington and Chelsea appreciate the historic streetscape, we don’t believe this should have to mean that homes and businesses in the borough have to put up with historic broadband speeds,” a BT spokesperson told TechWeekEurope. “We have installed more than 4,000 fibre cabinets across London, including borough’s like Greenwich – a world heritage site. We have successfully worked with 31 London Boroughs to provide fibre broadband speeds to their residents whilst minimising the visual impact of the necessary infrastructure. However, this does require co-operation on both sides.”