As I have mentioned before the sight of one of BT’s new street cabinets, used in the delivery of Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC), is significant especially when compared to the small green ones currently in use. There are some 80,000 cabinets across the country and BT Openreach are going through an upgrade plan as the business looks to get faster broadband into more homes.
However they seem to have hit a stumbling block with the delivery of this new service in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea who have so far blocked planning permission for 96 out of the 108 they want to upgrade. Their way of dealing with this is to publically announce they will not be pursuing with the delivery of the service and therefore Kensington & Chelsea will become some sort of technology backwater. It is an interesting tactic and one that, a few years ago, would have been impossible to imagine.
The fact that these homes and businesses can receive ADSL2+ services (20 Mb/s or so), not just from BT but also a number of other carriers should not be forgotten especially when so many parts of the country fail to even receive 2 Mb/s. But we are told, as consumers, that we not only want but need faster speeds and so the desire to get better and faster services is a powerful one. One that BT is keen to cash in on. While there are significant benefits from having a faster line, it certainly isn’t the only reason to upgrade, a lot of people don’t need the faster services and would be more interested in lower costs than higher speeds. For some just the ability to have all the available speed all the time and not suffer from congestion at busy times would deliver a significant improvement over the status quo.
The council however is rightly concerned about installing these monstrosities across the borough all in the name of delivering faster broadband to their residents, especially when it is still ultimately reliant on dated copper technology. Their argument is that BT are not working hard enough to help improve the local landscape, while BT’s position is that they can’t be bothered to mess around when so many other parts of the country want this service.
Personally I am not a fan of seeing some of the technology that has become so abundant in modern life. The mobile phone cells on top of buildings and the huge amount of overhead phone cables that litter the countryside are just some examples of how technology has impacted our environment. Like it or not we still have some beautiful parts of our country just because of the strict planning laws and I don’t think it is a bad thing that BT are forced to rethink the look or impact of a new technology in our environment. No matter how boring it might be there is no excuse for bad design. Take the original red phone box that has become a symbol of Britain, one that probably helps the public accept BT as the large corporate it is in the same way that Concorde symbolised British Airways.
This is BT’s chance to help change the perception and create another icon for the business – what other company has such a high proportion of street furniture? Come on BT, use a bit of imagination and everyone will welcome you with open arms.