BT duels with Kensington and Chelsea council over broadband block

By Sooraj Shah
01 Jun 2012 View Comments
Two BT engineers

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea could be left with "historic broadband speeds" according to BT, after the council pulled the plug on BT's rollout of superfast broadband.

BT confirmed that it had ceased deployment of fibre broadband in Kensington and Chelsea because it was left with "no option" as the majority of its applications were rejected by the council.

Further reading

"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," the telecoms company said.

In a statement, Kensington and Chelsea revealed that the reason for its withdrawal was to preserve the borough's streetscape.

"Every developer in Kensington and Chelsea must have regard to our historic streetscapes and listed buildings. We expect developers, including utilities like BT, to work with us to find suitable solutions to ensure that our environment is protected," the statement read.

The council then suggested that BT was not willing to reach a compromise on a number of issues.

"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.

BT argued that it was willing to work co-operatively with the council.

"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 officers' interpretation of their over-arching policy to de-clutter the borough," it said.

BT added that the council's withdrawal will affect about 34,200 homes and businesses in the borough.

However, the council has responded by suggesting that superfast broadband is already available to the borough, from BT's rival, Virgin Media.

"Virtually the whole borough is already covered by superfast broadband with Virgin, which obviously appreciates the very valuable market the borough represents.

"Virgin has been able to do this without ruining our historic streetscape. It will also consider extending to the few streets it does not already cover in the borough if demand is there," the council said.

Reader comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Newsletters
Is it time to open Windows?

Computing believes that Microsoft will start offering Windows free of charge by 2017. Is this a good thing for the enterprise?

56 %
17 %
7 %
17 %
3 %