BT has dropped plans to install 96 fibre broadband cabinets in Kensington and Chelsea after negotiations with the local council fell through.
Part of BT’s £2.5 billion next-gen broadband drive hit a wall in the London Royal Borough when councillors said that the street cabinets weren’t in keeping with surrounding aesthetics.
According to City AM which got the scoop on this, a Kensington and Chelsea spokesman said that: “BT has not worked in a spirit of cooperation and needs to consider our historic streetscape,” adding “perhaps one of its competitors will step into the role.”
When we spoke to BT we were told that “As part of our approach to engage constructively and ensure our fibre deployment was in line with the Borough's ambitions - we crossed-referenced our 108 planned cabinet sites with their planning principles.”
BT says will affect roughly 34,200 premises in the borough no aren't in line to get the 76Mbps Fibre to the Cabinet upgrades, which also rules out scope for future upgrades to full Fibre to the Home, which will eventually provide download speeds of up to 330Mbps.
According to a separate source, one cabinet from the Bayswater exchange is currently live with fibre, plus 11 additional cabinets in Bayswater and the Earls Court areas. Pending a resolution, no work will be carried out after this. That’s all the fibre you’re getting in Kensington and Chelsea for now.
BT: A historic communications infrastructure to go with a historic streetscape
BT's spokesperson added: “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 a historic communications infrastructure.”
Kensington and Chelsea’s stance has also been criticised by Baroness Jo Valentine, CEO of London First: "London business needs world class communications infrastructure and delaying broadband rollout in Kensington and Chelsea is bad news for local businesses and residents; BT is able to work with other boroughs with conservation areas – Kensington and Chelsea need to up their game."
We’ve contacted Kensington and Chelsea’s press team for a statement and responses to these statements and our waiting to hear back. We’re not entirely sure what would be in keeping with the area’s general mis-en-scene. Maybe street cabinets made of teak, or beaten copper with engravings of Cheska Hull’s face. We’re open to your design suggestions and other thoughts in the comments.