The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is set to miss out on BT's fiber optic broadband rollout because of a simple issue of aesthetics — the cabinets the telecoms operator needs to install on the borough's streets have been deemed too unsightly to be approved. Typically green in color and inoffensive in appearance, these hubs are necessary for the proper operation and maintenance of the new network and are similar to the ones used by cable internet provider Virgin Media.
At issue are the size of BT's new cabinet — measuring 1.6 meters tall, it's a fair bit more noticeable than the currently operated 1.15m-high boxes — and BT's reluctance to compromise on their location or design, according to the London council. 96 out of 108 planning applications for new cabinets have been turned down, leading BT to shelve its rollout plans for superfast broadband in one of London's most affluent boroughs. Richard Branson's Virgin Media will therefore be the only viable option for locals looking to reach heady speeds of up to 100Mbps — at least until this impasse between BT and the planning committee is breached. Neither BT nor Kensington and Chelsea can really afford to live without completing the project, so we'd expect them to figure out a mutually agreeable plan eventually.