The roll-out of superfast broadband which Openreach is in the middle of has taken a distinct step backwards in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The area was due to receive a FTTC service from Openreach via 108 cabinets, but after the council rejected plans for 96 of these Openreach has withdrawn its plans to roll-out FTTC and/or FTTP to the area.
Locating new street cabinets has always been a problem in conservation areas, but generally a solution can be found, but this has to be the largest problem to date. The rejections arise due to an on-going plan by the council to de-clutter the streets. BT withdrawing means some 34,000 premises will remain stuck on ADSL2+ for the foreseeable future.
"BT has not worked in a spirit of cooperation and needs to consider our historic streetscape. Perhaps one of its competitors will step into the role."A Kensington and Chelsea spokesman talking to City AM
In theory BT could avoid the problem by installing its fibre to the premises solution in the borough, which uses passive hardware and does not require a new street cabinet, but would require extra chambers in the pavement and possible disruption as the fibre tubing is fed to each of the 34,000 premises, which may not be popular with the council.
As the Openreach roll-out is commercial led, then Openreach is at liberty to re-deploy its assets to another area that is more welcoming to the cabinets. Another solution used abroad is cabinets that are sunk into the pavement. There is also now an opening for alternate fibre operators to make a move into the area.