Feeds

Muswell Hillbillies force BT to move broadband boxes

Paint it black, NIMBYs chant

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

BT has been ordered to move 20 of the bulkier new streetside cabinets planned to power its trial of faster broadband, after they offended aesthetic sensibilities in leafy Muswell Hill, north London.

The local council, Haringey, is also arranging for all the boxes to be repainted black rather than their current green, to "blend slightly better with some of the existing street furniture".

The enforced changes follow talks between the BT and the council.

Prompted by complaints from residents of a conservation area in Muswell Hill, in August planning officials told the firm to halt expansion of its fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) trial, which offers downstream speeds of up to 40Mbit/s.

New sites - some less prominent, some outside the conservation area of six streets around Queen's Avenue - have now been found for about three-quarters of the cabinets, a spokeswoman for Haringey Council told The Register.

Despite the apparent progress, Haringey Council was critical of BT.

"It is most regrettable that the cabinets were designed to be much higher and wider than the smaller telephone cabinets which are typically found on street corners - the newer cabinets are 1.6 metres high whereas the older-style cabinets are 0.9 metres high and not so wide as the new ones," the spokeswoman said.

When it was first ordered to halt the rollout, BT said its new boxes had to be larger to accommodate the extra electronics, backup batteries and cooling required by FTTC technology.

Haringey Council today acknowledged that more equipment was required, but said BT should have tried harder to reduce its aesthetic impact.

"It would have been better if BT had sought advice on a better design before the boxes were installed," it said.

BT broke planning laws by installing some of the bulky new cabinets in the streets around Queen's Avenue without permission, the council said. Planning permission was required in the conservation area, but not in the rest of Muswell Hill, where the FTTC trial is up and running.

The illegal cabinets will be ripped out and among those moved elsewhere, the spokeswoman said.

"It would appear that some residents of Muswell Hill consider that the benefits of a faster broadband service do not outweigh the harm to the conservation area caused by the intrusiveness of the boxes," she added.

Responding to claims it acted illegally, BT said: "As certain areas of Muswell Hill are designated as a conservation area, the planning process is far more complex; a small number of cabinets were installed in error without the specific level of planning consent needed for installations in these areas.

"We are working through this issue with Haringey council, and are making good progress in finding alternative locations for a number of cabinets which were refused planning permission, to ensure that the maximum number of residents can benefit from access to super-fast broadband service."

BT said the new cabinets were "slightly" larger to accommodate the extra equipment.

"As Muswell Hill is a pilot area, and Next Generation Access is a new technology we are still learning lessons from the deployment of these cabinets, and are constantly evolving their design and specification, in co-operation with local authorities," it said.

"However, it is important to note that thanks to the deployment of this technology, residents of Muswell Hill will be amongst the first in the country to benefit from access to super-fast fibre broadband services."

Muswell Hill was selected by BT last year as one of two trial locations for its FTTC rollout. The rollout is scheduled to cover 40 per cent of premises nationwide by 2012. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass
Operator says it will safeguard 359 jobs, plans lick of paint
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Vodafone to buy 140 Phones 4u stores from stricken retailer
887 jobs 'preserved' in the process, says administrator PwC
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names
Handbags at dawn over free content ad network's ID policy
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.