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Government MP Slams Outrageous Placement of BT Superfast Broadband Cabinets

Posted: 05th Jul, 2011 By: MarkJ
fttc uk bt street cabinetThe UK government's Minister of State for Care Services and Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam, Paul Burstow, has criticised BT for behaving "outrageously" over its continuing decisions to place a new generation of 5ft tall superfast broadband ( FTTC ) street side cabinets in allegedly unsuitable places.

The row erupted after one of Mr Burstow's elderly constituents, Wendy Russell (77), awoke to find BT's new cabinet blocking her view. BT contractors are also said to have cut a gas pipe and caused damage to Wendy's garden wall.

Mrs Russell said (Daily Mail):

"The cabinet is 3ft foot higher than my wall and blocks the view from my front window. It's an eyesore which I fear will lower the value of the house. It brings no benefit to me as I only occasionally use my computer and have no interest in having faster broadband. I am not even a BT customer. I asked the workmen to move the box to the side of the house where I wouldn’t be able to see it, but they said that would cost too much."

MP Paul Burstow added:

"As a company which prides itself on good customer service, BT needs to get a grip on the way it places its cabinets. It’s just common sense to keep residents in the loop about work that is going on outside their homes. I think it is outrageous that the first thing someone hears about one of the cabinets being installed is when they are woken up by the sound of drilling."

At present BT is known to be spending £2.5bn on a national rollout of its new FTTC (40Mbps) and FTTP (100Mbps+) broadband ISP services, which will cover 40% of UK homes by 2012 and 66% by 2015. The new technology requires BT to install roughly 52,000 of their new cabinets around the country, although this has caused plenty of annoyance (here, here and here).

The new cabinets are known to be a lot taller than the old ones and have often been described as "unsightly" by affected residents. BT doesn't need planning permission to install the cabinets, except in conservation areas, although they are required to inform the council one month prior to work commencing.

BT claimed after a similar situation last July that they were receptive to discussing possible alternative solutions, albeit without sacrificing the very real benefits that the new services can bring. However it remains difficult to see how such discussions can be effective when so little warning of the work is given.

Personally we don't think that the cabinets look all that bad and many people would probably agree that their presence is a price worth paying, it might even increase the value of some homes. On the other hand BT, which has since admitted to disconnecting Mrs Russell's "gas supply for a few hours", could probably still do more to engage with local concerns.
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