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BT's 40Mbps super-broadband stopped by NIMBYs

Residents don't like the junction boxes

BT's plan to upgrade the UK's telecoms network to super-fast fibre-optic cables has been halted by local residents who don't fancy the required cabinets messing up their streets which are part of the Queens Avenue Conservation Area.

NIMBYs (Not In My Backyard) have got local Haringey council to block any further junction boxes in Muswell Hill - one of just two test areas for the 40Mbps broadband service.

The trial continues in Whitchurch, Cardiff, but BT is looking to either Glasgow, Edinburgh or Manchester to compensate for the Muswell Hill setback.

The Times reports John Crompton, treasurer of the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association, saying that the green 1.8m tall cabinets have blocked pavements for pedestrians as well as preventing car drivers from opening their nearside doors.

"These cabinets are unsightly and are taller than most garden walls. It's counter-intuitive. Technology is meant to be getting smaller," Crompton told the newspaper.

"I don't know why they have to be so big and why they can't bury them underground. If this trial is a success does this mean every street in Britain will have these great big cabinets blocking people's paths?"

BT Openreach van
However, residents who were looking forward to the super-speedy broadband branded councillors "obstructive" for refusing to allow the service boxes to be installed in King's Avenue, Muswell Hill, that are needed to run the cutting edge BT technology.

A resident of King's Avenue, Muswell Hill, told the Muswell Hill Journal: "It just seems like the council is being obstructive because eventually the technology's going to be rolled out everywhere and it's such a shame it's happening in the area and we don't get to be part of it.

"We don't get great broadband speeds where we are at the moment with the internet and stuff - it's a chance to experience and get better quality broadband."

A BT Openreach spokesman said: "We hope to agree a way forward so that businesses and consumers in the area don't miss out on the benefits of superfast broadband."

A spokesman for Haringey Council said that it was talking to BT to find alternative locations: "There was some local concern that BT installed these cabinets before getting planning approval."

Famous Muswell Hill residents include actress Samantha Janus, comedian Michael Mcintyre, film director Mike Leigh, and Crispin Bonham-Carter, 'Mr Bingley' in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

In the 1970s BBC comedy series Porridge, Norman Stanley Fletcher, played by Ronnie Barker, hailed from Muswell Hill. Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks were born there as was Alvin Stardust and PC Advisor Editor Paul Trotter.

Hacker Gary McKinnon, facing jail in the US, lives in nearby Crouch End.

Muswell Hill was the main setting for the 2006 Doctor Who episode The Idiot's Lantern.

The service uses fibre-optic cables to link the street cabinets that connect homes and businesses to telephone exchanges. BT claims it will offer speeds of up to 40 megabits per second (Mbps).

The trials have been described by BT as a 'pilot' as the hardware will not be removed once the trial period has ended.

The two sites were chosen for their mix of customers and net providers, along with the local communications network and geography. BT will announce further trials towards the end of 2009, with commercial roll-out expected to start in 2010.


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