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Large Virgin Media Cabinet Frustrates Light Seeking Scottish Pensioners

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 (5:10 pm) - Score 2,430
lowndes court virgin media cabinet location

A small group of pensioners living in Barrhead (East Renfrewshire, Scotland) have vented frustration at Virgin Media after the broadband cable operator built a large (5ft tall) new street cabinet near to their living room window, which they claim “completely blocks out any light from coming into the house.”

The deployment itself is part of the operator’s on-going £3bn Project Lightning network expansion, which aims to add an additional 4 million premises to its national network by 2019 and this should extend overall coverage to around 60-65% of the UK. Locals will thus be able to access a 350Mbps capable ultrafast broadband and TV service.

Most people would probably be only too happy to have such a service roll-out in their area (a small loss of cosmetic appeal is often a small but worthy price to pay for ultrafast broadband), although the Daily Mail says that this isn’t the case for several elderly residents of the latest build in Barrhead.

Rosemary Ferguson (82) said:

“It completely blocks out any light from coming into the house, and we now have no outlook at all. We were never advised they were going to be put here, but apparently, that’s because they don’t need planning permission to put them up.

We have been fighting this since January and have just hit a brick wall the whole way.”

Judging by the newspaper’s pictures (we can’t re-print due to copyright), we wouldn’t say that the cabinet itself, which is indeed bigger than most we’ve seen, “completely blocks out any light from coming into the house” (one of the images quite clearly shows the sun is gleaming inside). The cabinet also appears to be 2-3 metres away, although in fairness it really doesn’t do much for the view of ground floor properties.

Generally Virgin Media will drop letters into an area before their contractors’ turn up, although these don’t tend to say precisely what infrastructure is going where or how big it will be. As the local authority says, “planning permission is not required for these boxes, although we would expect them to be placed in suitable locations which have minimal impact on residents.”

A Spokesperson for Virgin Media said:

“We endeavour to minimise disruption and we apologise for any inconvenience to residents. In the case of the cabinets in Lowndes Court, the council was notified prior to Virgin Media installing the cabinets and the correct procedures were followed.”

Most of the complaints we see about the position and size of new broadband cabinets tends to stem from Openreach’s FTTC roll-out, so it’s nice to have a bit of variety for a change. Meanwhile the residents look set to fight on.

Leave a Comment
23 Responses
  1. Avatar Gary Bucht

    I think the pensioners may have a point. Perhaps if the cabs were smaller like a typical BT PCP or FTTC it wouldn’t matter…but those VM types are almost as tall as an adult, I don’t think many people would want those outside their window!!

    • Avatar CarlT

      Those aren’t normal cabinets. One of them is am MSAN, providing phone service for 500 premises passed. The other is a power cabinet, taking a low voltage feed, using a rectifier to convert it to DC and sending it down the coaxial network to power amplifiers and optical nodes. It also carries backup batteries for the MSAN.

      Not sure why the MSAN had to go there. They are installed next to power cabinets so I am speculating either availability of power or length of cable runs forced that placement.

    • Avatar hope they are well cooled..

      +1, if something this size appeared outside my window I would be similarly unimpressed… at least until Nov 5th when it might have a bearing on where on my property I decided to build the annual bonfire 😉

  2. Avatar Steve Jones

    There have been plenty of complaints about BT boxes of course, but these do appear to take it up another size level.

  3. Avatar Chris P

    the photo in the paper (article link) shows the cab is as tall as the pensioners and its right outside their window, would it of been an issue for VM to have placed the cabs further away?

  4. Avatar MikeHunt

    Damn coffin dodgers.

  5. Avatar Frank Butcher

    I’ve got sympathy for them, in their position I’d feel exactly the same. It’s not a very nice view with that lump in the way.

    • Avatar Optimist

      I agree. For the sake of good PR, VM should relocate those cabinets.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Okay. You get to tell Ofcom potentially a few hundred phone services are going to have outages, at risk of being long, for the sake of PR.

    • Avatar Steve Jones


      I rather doubt there are several hundred active phone lines if that box has only recently been installed (which I now see is covered by the BBC nationally – at least on Internet feeds). There would also be, admittedly expensive, ways of moving the facility elsewhere with minimal disruption.

      I really don’t think Ofcom have any role at all in this – it’s mostly managing PR and some issues with regard to the extent of the powers of local planners.

    • Avatar size matters...

      “I rather doubt there are several hundred active phone lines if that box has only recently been installed”

      It is not recent the Daily mail story clearly states…

      “They have been battling with Virgin Media for nine months after the boxes were put in their street”

      So its been there approaching a year and so the cabinet is likely used with hundreds of connections. Even more so when you hear about BT cabinets becoming full in short periods of time, i fail to see why VM and its popularity in a new area would be any different.

      Looks about the same stated height (that being 5ft) as a BT double door Huawei cabinet to me.

    • Avatar CarlT

      Huawei 288 is 1600mm,5’3″ high.

    • Avatar size matters...

      Yep you win carlT 🙂

      The Virgin Hybrid Fibre Districution Cabs (HFCs) the largest of them is 1200mm high or 3’11” (thats the smaller of the 2 in the picture).
      The MSAN cabs for it (IE the larger of the 2 in the pictures which you correctly identified) are 1500mm tall.

      So ive no idea what the BT lot are on about when they think these are much bigger they are smaller.

      There is a brand new 1700mm (all of 4inches) higher VM cabinet which has LITERALLY just been launched for areas they are doing FTTH in. Those are typically 1 for every 3000 premises. Maybe they are thinking of them? The largest in the picture will NOT be one of them as the deployment is 9+ months old and is HFC.

      Even if it were one of those (which clearly it is not) i would not say 100mm (or 4inches) “…take it up another size level”. Though i spose every extra inch for some is significant and to actually have 4 inches to some is impressive in ways not related to the story ; -D

      Ill have the link ready in case they want to know more about VM cab sizes. Clearly they did not know anything about their height before commenting. No shock there!

    • Avatar CarlT

      Pleased the link I put on TBB has been useful 🙂

    • Avatar size matters...

      Oh have you had to set things right about cabinet sizes on there also? Go on then give me a laugh, i assume its a forum post.

  6. Avatar Common Sense

    “completely blocks out any light”


    ANY light? Is the house pitch black?

    And I bet they are missing their lovely view of the road and other flats across the street

  7. Avatar sentup.custard

    Nicked car.
    Twenty quid.

  8. Avatar stickybit

    I wonder how many Virgin Media executives have got huge grey steel cabinets 3 meters from their living room windows? Like the couple in the story, I’d also be seriously upset if I found myself staring at those things every time I looked out of the our living room window. What an inconsiderate thing to do to those residents.

    @CarlIT: the services in the cabinet wouldn’t be disrupted “for the sake of PR”, they’d be disrupted because the supplier had been thoughtless, demonstrating very poor judgement in the exercise of its “no planning permission required” privilege, and was making good the error.

  9. Avatar Bill

    Does anyone else find the included photo rather unhelpful? The red arrow seems to be pointing at a hedge?

    • Avatar size matters...

      You could try clicking on the daily mail link for pics, though doing so will open a portal to a world of bonkers and nonsense on your screen. Some believe what they write though.

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