BT kills off Chelsea fibre in clash over ugly cabinets

Summary:BT has halted its super-fast broadband deployment in Kensington and Chelsea after the council deemed the necessary cabinets weren't in keeping with the look of the area

While BT continues to add new exchanges to its fibre broadband footprint, there's one area of the country that won't be joining the super-fast rollout any time soon: Kensington and Chelsea.

Fibre cabinet

BT has halted its super-fast broadband deployment in Kensington and Chelsea after the council deemed the necessary cabinets weren't in keeping with the look of the area. Image credit: David Meyer/ZDNet

BT had originally planned to install 108 fibre cabinets in the borough, covering 24,000 homes and businesses, but has now abandoned the plans after Kensington and Chelsea Council refused or shelved 96 of BT's planning applications for the cabinets.

"The council said the cabinets weren't in keeping with the historic streetscape. Now they can have the historic broadband to match," a BT spokesman said.

The cabinets were not considered to be in keeping with Kensington and Chelsea's planning principles, it said.

According to BT, the company and the council have had "literally dozens of meetings and calls over many months" to try to resolve the issues. The council proposed moving the cabinets underground, which BT refused in case of flooding. Officials then suggested making the cabinets smaller, which BT rejected on the grounds it would render the rollout uneconomical.

According to Kensington and Chelsea Council, all developers, including utilities need to make sure that the local environment is protected.

The council said the cabinets weren't in keeping with the historic streetscape. Now they can have the historic broadband to match.

– BT

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

Having reached an impasse, BT has now put a stop to its fibre deployment in the borough, saying it had "no option but to send our engineers to other areas that are more welcoming".

The council now hopes that other telcos will step in to fill the fibre gap. "We regret that BT are not proceeding with super-fast broadband in the Royal Borough but we expect other providers will want to offer super-fast broadband to our residents, in a very valuable market, without ruining our historic streetscape," it said.

BT's wholesale fibre service is now available to 10 million households and businesses in the UK.


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Topics: Broadband

About

Jo Best has been covering IT for the best part of a decade for publications including silicon.com, Guardian Government Computing and ZDNet in both London and Sydney.

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