Broadband News

Do you have a hidden ninja Openreach street cabinet?

The idea of camouflaging street cabinets and the increasing amount of other hardware housing electronics around UK streets has been raised before, but it is now a reality. We spotted the cabinet below in Wandsworth Common, though the 'Fibre broadband is here' poster does ruin the illusion slightly.

Openreach FTTC street cabinet with vinyl camouflage wrap   Example of informational vinyl wrap in Gibraltar
Click image for larger version

The vinyl wraps are produced by Wrap and Hide, who will do custom wraps for many different things, from helping to hide a meter cupboard on your house through to full size FTTC cabinets. Each wrap is unique generated from photographs to try and produce the best possible wrap, and the wraps have an expected life span of five years.

The firm that produces the wraps also produces artistic versions as a cabinet that merges into the background in a high traffic area may present a hazard. Who knows perhaps we may see councils embarking in one-upmanship, as some of their arts budget is diverted to produce street art for Openreach FTTC cabinets.

Update 15/03/2013: We have spoken with Wrap and Hide and they have supplied a picture of another style of vinyl wrap, this time on a fibre cabinet in Gibraltar where Gibtelecom are not disguising the cabinets, but using them as a useful information board for tourists.

The cost in the UK for the vinyl itself to the specification used on the Openreach cabinets is around the £400 mark, plus other costs like photograph and actually applying the wrap. Part of the extra cost compared to our earlier guess is that there is an anti graffiti layer that should help avoid people using the cabinets as a sketch pad.


That's a very interesting idea, I quite like it. It should also help to keep the whiners who say the cabinets are too obtrusive happy.

I was actually going to question what they would do about freestanding cabs that aren't near a wall, but I noticed on their site that they plan to use a arty design to show off local objects of interest, that's amazing.

BT should put on of these on all their cabs, not like £29 would hurt... and they should install a cab near me while they're at it.

  • Callumpy
  • over 7 years ago

Recheck the pricing, £29 is for a small domestic meter cupboard, £200 is my estimate for a cabinet.

Perhaps next step might be an e-ink version with dynamic content in busy areas.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

How long before some prat walks into it then trys to sue saying they couldn't see it

  • omnius
  • over 7 years ago

There's one of these on the Cliff Parade in Penarth.

  • freder
  • over 7 years ago

Most of these cabinets are well-disguised by their complete absence from places where you want them...

  • John_Gray
  • over 7 years ago

Not 5 years guarantee according to their website:
"Where the wrap has been applied in full accordance with our instructions, we will replace your product if the product becomes detached or the printing fades beyond normal, acceptable levels within 3 years of purchase"
Watching the amateurish video about applying this stuff, the guy has never fitted cushion floor around a wc pan!
It may be the answer to the Kensington snobs who will not get fibre BB because they don't want the green boxes though?

  • zhango
  • over 7 years ago

Have dropped the word guarantee for expected.

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

3/4 years seems to be about the going rate for a bit of sticky back plastic. While the fading white of an aged meter box is rather ugly, a peeling fading fablon/vinyl wrap might be no better. Plus I suspect it might look rather tacky.

  • fibrebunny
  • over 7 years ago

Some Cost analysis! Strip that box and cost the baby.

  • ValueforMoney
  • over 7 years ago

I once reversed into someones wheelie bin that had a vegetation/floral decal on it, just didn't see it against the persons front wall which had lots of flowers on it - broke the bin...

I can see a few damaged street cabinets in Openreach's future if they decide to start camouflaging them.

  • Spectre_01
  • over 7 years ago

Yeah and that stuff won't get peeled off in a hurry by the resident ASBO wearers... :)

  • Swampster
  • over 7 years ago

Personally I think these look MORE ugly than the plain old non-camouflaged cabinets. Just my opinion. I prefer them bog standard.

  • Bento
  • over 7 years ago

@ freder.
I was gonna say that too! I'm thinking of the 10 meter high vodafone 3G cell site. up against the wall. the green cabinet is also blending in with the brick wall!

  • jamesvincentuk
  • over 7 years ago

We haven't got a cabinet. All our cables run underground and the cables haven't been upgraded in the 47 years I have lived here. This morning I tried to phone the Doctor's Surgery - but the phone line was down, so now I haven't got an appointment. I have to go in at 4.30 and sit and wait in the hopes one of the Doctors can see me. I was getting 2.1 MB a few weeks ago. Now it's down to 1.7 MB, which isn't BB to my way of thinking. I pay for "up to 8 MB" without a hope in hell of getting even 5 MB.
12 MB average BB speed? Where? Not in my area during my lifetime.

  • dragon1945
  • over 7 years ago

Says omnious:
"How long before some prat walks into it then trys to sue saying they couldn't see it"

Yes, heaven forbid some pedestrian should dare to use the pavement for walking, rather than as a installation point for your faster broadband.

  • Northwind
  • over 7 years ago

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