Here's more good news for those of us waiting for fibre broadband to be available at our homes and small businesses. After last month's news of BT Openreach hiring more roving engineers, we now hear that councils will in future be unable to prevent the installation of new streetside cabinets—as pictured, spotted by Mike Cattell in Basingstoke:
As Kelly Fiveash and others reported this morning, the recent cabinet reshuffle brought forth a new broom in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The new culture secretary, Maria Miller, is consulting on plans to cut red tape:
Brits will no longer be able to stop the arrival of "ghastly" fibre optic cabling cabinets outside their homes: Blighty's new broadband minister has stamped her authority on moves to upgrade the nation's internet infrastructure that won't need approval from local councils.
NIMBYs in Kensington & Chelsea and other well-heeled parts of London will be bitterly grumbling into their G'n'Ts tonight, because they will not be able to oppose fibre-optic cabinet installations in their boroughs.
Private landowners will also be told that fibre can be laid under or above their land [without] "the bureaucratic burden of long-running negotiations". [And] that overhead broadband lines can also be installed [without] planning permission.
However, there will be an exception for sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs). The proposals will also apply to Virgin Media, not just BT Openreach.
There were a couple of additional points slipped into the full announcement, which seem to have been missed by the reports I've read. First, Miller also wants to speed up the provision of mobile cell towers:
The Government will also work...to consider ways that the planning process might be streamlined to speed up the deployment of mobile infrastructure.
Second, and perhaps more significantly, Miller wants to see more competition, raising the old chestnut of powerline broadband again:
We will also facilitate discussions between broadband infrastructure providers, power companies and the regulator Ofgem to develop a national contract for providing broadband infrastructure with a power supply.
This may raise the hackles of radio amateurs, of which more anon...
Richi Jennings , editor of Input Output UK, is also an independent analyst, specializing in blogging, email, spam, security, and other technology topics. His writing has won ASBPE and Neal awards. You can encircle him at +richi, follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be his friend at Facebook.com/richij or just use boring old email: firstname.lastname@example.org.