Monday, 21 October 2013 12:57

High Barnet's broadband fiasco

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Several thousand High Barnet customers have no idea when they will get superfast broadband Several thousand High Barnet customers have no idea when they will get superfast broadband
Several thousand properties in and around High Barnet’s conservation area have been left without any clear explanation from British Telecom as to when – if ever – their premises will get a superfast broadband connection. Six months ago planning rules were relaxed to speed up the installation of new high-speed optical fibre broadband cabinets, but British Telecom is still telling customers that it can offer no precise timescale because of “delays agreeing cabinet locations with your local council”.

But Barnet Council’s planning department says the relevant permitted development legislation was amended in May 2013 and the “express permission of the local planning authority is no longer required for cabinets to provide high-speed broadband”.

Frustrated customers include many householders who desperately need a faster broadband speed because they work at home, and British British Telecom says it has no “good news”

Telecom’s continuing prevarication is causing them stress and worry.

By using their postcode and telephone number householders can enquire via to discover whether their premises can get a high-speed connection. But many for many High Barnet properties the message never changes:

“Sorry, fibre optic isn’t currently available at your property. . .fibre optic broadband is estimated to be in your area between October 2013 and March 2014. . . Dates may be subject to change due to factors outside our control such as; delays agreeing cabinet locations with your local council or unforeseen issues encountered during the construction of your street cabinet.”

Still waiting for Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers to interveneSo far complaints by constituents to the Chipping Barnet MP Theresa Villiers have failed to prompt any meaningful replies from British Telecom and the general consensus seems to be that High Barnet is being punished because of its conservation area.

Three applications for broadband cabinets, including one on the High Street pavement and another in Wood Street, were refused by Barnet Council in 2012 on the grounds they would have “an adverse impact on the conservation area”.

Since then no fresh applications have been made and those areas of High Barnet without a high-speed connection appear to have gone to the back of the queue in British Telecom’s roll out of superfast broadband.

To add to the confusion one group of Barnet residents have been told that a broadband cabinet in the High Street has now been “removed from the upgrade programme” because a concrete base and connecting ducts cannot not be installed due to the presence of other underground services such as gas and electricity.

Therefore British Telecom says it has no “good news” for the occupants of up to 400 premises and homes around the junction of the High Street and St Albans Road; at present the company says it can offer them no date for a broadband connection.

British British Telecom says it has no “good news

In response to a request from the Barnet Society, Councillor David Longstaff has obtained an assurance from council officials that the borough is no longer to blame for any delays as council approval is no longer needed.

Councillor Longstaff is asking the Barnet Society to indicate how it would respond to the installation of more pavement cabinets within the High Barnet conservation area.

“This is a conundrum for residents as the conservation area is extremely important, but then falling behind in the technology stakes is equally troublesome and frustrating. The law has now changed and it is up to British Telecom to pursue.

“I would be keen to hear the Barnet Society’s views on putting boxes in the conservation area?”

The conservation area is in three sections: one goes north along the High Street from the police station, includes the parish church, and then extends west along Wood Street and almost reaches the Arkley public house; the second heads north from the market, along the High Street and takes in Monken Hadley and Hadley Wood and the third is the extension of the Monkey Hadley conservation area to the Cock and Dragon pub in Cockfosters.

High Speed internet is wanted by many in the conservation areaBritish Telecom has estimated that by the spring of 2014 superfast broadband should be available to 25,000 premises served by the Barnet telephone exchange.

“This is some 90 per cent of the local premises . . .We continue to review locations that can’t have fibre access and with technological advancement, there may be scope in the future to deliver high-speed services.

“Delivering fibre broadband is technically challenging and sadly, we do get a relatively small number of cabinets that we’re unable to upgrade despite our best efforts.”

Are you one of the unlucky ten per cent of High Barnet householders for whom superfast broadband is going to be a distant dream?

Did you know that even the residents of a London borough might well lose out from British Telecom’s investment?

The Barnet Society would welcome your comments and your views on the possible positioning of broadband cabinets on pavements within the conservation area.

There is a similar cabinet to the one illustrated in Wood Street next to the bus stop opposite the Black Horse public house.   



  • Comment Link Monday, 21 October 2013 19:07 posted by Michael Kentish

    They are putting new technology in what is an old
    Victorian telecoms solution, Having had a career in the City of London, over many years I have seen the installation of major high speed networks, including the Metropolitan Ring. In the City, what goes in these cabinets is buried under manholes in the pavement in a pop-up chassis. They are doing Barnet on the cheap!

    Our business 'broadband' is atrocious (2mb max) - we've been told it's because of wiring in excess of 100 years in age when High Barnet was in the forefront of the Plain Old Telephone system age - POTS !

  • Comment Link Monday, 21 October 2013 20:47 posted by Andy Clark

    It seems odd that Union St gets fibre broadband but Salisbury Rd doesn't.

    BT need to revisit the upgrade plans if the council aren't standing in the way anymore.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 23 October 2013 20:59 posted by andie

    Does this have anything with many residents do not have a any phone connection since Tuesday , still do not on Wednesday evening. After been left on hold for 23 mins on Wednesday eve I was informed that is still a fault and the problem will be rectified by the 25th October. Not quite clear how they can give a deadline when they do not know what the problem is. Any ideas thank-you Andie

  • Comment Link Friday, 17 January 2014 17:06 posted by Mark Adams

    I live in Carnarvon Road (the one that runs down the side of the library.) I don't have access to fibre optic broadband so I e-mailed BT openreach to find out when it was going to be installed and got the following canned response:

    Dear Sir

    Thank you for your enquiry about Barnet Cabinet 64.

    Our deployment is based on the commercial criteria for each cabinet and your cabinet fails to meet the commercial criteria. When calculating the commercial viability of cabinet areas we take many factors into account. These include ensuring that we locate the cabinets in accordance with all national and local planning laws, ensuring that the cabinet does not obstruct pedestrians or provide a danger to all road-users. We must ensure that the DSLAM is located within 100m of its associated telephony connection cabinet and that there is adequate access to power and existing telephony infrastructure. To further enable the location of the DSLAM, we must accurately survey for underground structure and obstacles etc.

    We do look at the demographic nature of the potential customers within a cabinets working area, however, we focus on the amount of connected lines at the time and not any potential expansion within a cabinet area as this is not guaranteed - this is the most efficient way to deploy fibre broadband whilst keeping within our finite budget. As such we look at the potential return for our investment over quite a number of years, with the prospective number of take up of the service being a large percentage of households.
    Where cabinets are not in our footprint,, it is worth contacting your London Assembly Member or local council to register your interest in case any government funding becomes available to help fund deployment.

    You may also wish to lobby your Assembly Member or local councillor on progress gaining funding for such deployment from the Government. You can also register your interest on the Openreach website at;

    Please note, the telephony network over which fibre broadband is bespoke, as such, all premise are served from dedicated distribution points which are connected via their own underground duct network either directly to the exchange or to telephony cabinets. There are no interconnections that can be utilised to give fibre broadband services between cabinets, therefore, I’m afraid we technically can’t move your service. In addition, it is not Openreach policy to rearrange the network to enable services where they are not currently available, which is what would occur if your service was moved.

    If you have any further questions, please ensure you have read the FAQ's on our website, If your question is answered within the FAQ section, we will not respond to your e-mail.


  • Comment Link Monday, 29 September 2014 19:15 posted by Disgusted of Barnet

    Almost a year on from this article and nothing has changed, FTTC is still not available for a big swathe of a London borough. Thanks you to the muppets at Barnet Council for giving BT an excuse not to roll out to us and thanks to our useless MP for getting no-where with this.

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 22 October 2014 13:34 posted by David Waller

    Before moving to Willow Drive in Chipping Barnet, EN5, I used the BT FTTC fibre availability checker ( to see if I would have access to modern broadband speeds.

    The checker said that my cabinet, Barnet Exchange cabinet 38, would be fibre-upgraded by Sept 2014. It even cited the fibre connection speed. So I moved. It wasn't. The availability checker was wrong.

    Now Openreach tells me that Barnet Exchange cabinet 38 is not going to be upgraded as "part of the Openreach commercial fibre rollout." There is no prospect of a fibre connection at all. So, now I'm stuck with a very slow connection speed that I used to have 10 years ago.

    It is very disappointing that BT's online system for checking fibre availability simply can't be trusted and that in 2014 a street in a London Borough cannot have access to modern digital technology enjoyed by all of the streets around them.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 08 November 2014 14:52 posted by Daniel

    This is disgusting. I have been waiting years for this and still nothing.
    What the hell is our MP doing about this?

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 03 December 2014 09:02 posted by SC (Hillside Gardens)

    Email from BT Openreach after similar query as David Waller

    Dear SC,

    Thank you for your email. Apologises for the delay. Regarding the delay for BARNET exchange cabinet 38.

    I have gone ahead and checked and I found that the project under which your cabinet was mentioned has been cancelled due to the restrictions being imposed by Barnet Highways and there is not a suitable location for this Dslam.

    As of now it is very difficult to give you any specific date for the cabinet to be installed and get fibre enabled.

    Kind regards

    NGA Enquiries

  • Comment Link Thursday, 11 December 2014 22:14 posted by Malcolm Messiter

    Barnet council appears to be the cause of this infinite delay.
    It's simply unacceptable and absurd. Of course fibre optic internet access is essential. It's years overdue. No excuse or "reason" is valid. For goodness sake JUST DO IT!

    Malcolm Messiter

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 30 December 2014 15:05 posted by David

    Still waiting it seems!

    We must have the most useless Council in the world...

  • Comment Link Monday, 02 February 2015 16:48 posted by Martin

    what is the BT Open Reach email address we need to contact to find out about what is happening with specific cabinets?

  • Comment Link Wednesday, 25 February 2015 10:22 posted by Michael Gaffney

    I was told by BT regarding Cabinet 64:

    We (Barnet Council and Openreach) have unfortunately been unable to find a site which satisfies our deployment criteria due to underground services such as gas, electric supplies etc. preventing the build of the concrete base for our fibre cabinet and the underground connecting ducts which we would use to inter-connect the fibre broadband cabinet to our network

  • Comment Link Monday, 13 July 2015 14:01 posted by Chris K

    I contacted Open Reach, it was a waste of time. Their response was that Barnet council was causing the obstruction. Is Theresa villiers still involved?

  • Comment Link Friday, 17 July 2015 12:34 posted by Richard

    I doubt she will do anything now that she had been voted back in again. Expect a few newsletters saying how she is pushing hard to get it resolved in late 2019 early 2020.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 15 October 2015 18:41 posted by Bendan

    In the 21st Century listening to these excuses is simply hilarious. Should,nt we make a comedy film with BT and its allied organizations as the main "Stars"


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