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BT Missing Up To 60 Percent Of Cabinets

David Gilbert


BT Missing Up To 60 Percent Of Cabinets

While BT has been vociferous in telling us about the roll out of its next-generation fibre-optic broadband, it appears as if up to 60 percent of cabinets are not being enabled.

BT rolled out its new 40Mbps service over 12 months ago with much fanfare and chest beating. Since then BT has consistently issued press releases telling us exactly where this new service is available. In order for an area to be enabled, two installations are needed. Firstly the exchange in that area needs to be upgraded and then the street-level cabinets need to be upgraded. And while BT has been upgrading the exchanges when it announces a particular area, it seems the cabinets are a different matter.

An example of the press releases issued by BT

“BT Openreach describes an exchange as in progress if there are ten cabinets live, but there could be 70 or 80 or more cabinets in that area – customers are seeing when their exchange is enabled but not when their cabinet is going to be, or even if it’s going to be upgraded, because only about 40 percent or 50 percent of cabinets in a given area are scheduled or are likely to be upgraded,” said Stuart Watson, broadband product manager at Zen Internet, which resells BT’s Infinity service.

Responding to the claim, BT said the problem was not as big as suggested by Watson though it did confirm that some cabinets were not upgraded at the time of initial installation and could be done at a later time. We aim for as much coverage as possible within our technical and commercial parameters," a BT spokesperson told PC Pro. "On average the figure is around 85 percent of an exchange area - this may be higher or much lower depending on the infrastructure and the market."

The spokesman went on to say that if a cabinet was not supporting enough premises if may not be enabled for fibre “at this time.” Have you had any problems like this in areas which BT said was enabled for its 40Mbps service? Let us know in your comments.

Source: PC Pro


February 21, 2011, 9:45 pm

My exchange (Pudsey) was one of the first to be enabled. Called BT with some excitement a few weeks ago only to be told it was not available in my area, despite the exchange being enabled, nor could they tell me when - or even IF - it ever would be.

They were very happy to offer me 2 MB broadband at the same price as Infinity though :)

Energizer Bunny

February 21, 2011, 9:52 pm

This is totally true. BT upgraded my area at the end of the year, but it seems completely random which cabinets they upgraded. Friends of mine much further away from the same exchange can get the 40mb service but I am still here trundling away on 1.5mb (Central London). The Infinity website just says that my area has been upgraded but when I try to select BT services it just offers me a normal connection (up to 6mb - which is BS frankly). Great job BT.

Ala Miah

February 21, 2011, 9:59 pm

BT Said in Jan 2010 that my exchange (Upton Park) was going to be enabled in March 2011. In September 2010, they said my exchange has been pushed back to September 2011. Now in Jan 2011 they go that my exchange is no longer going to be enabled and gave no explanation whatsoever.

I was so angry because they wouldn't explain why. I can't even get cable in my area so im stuck on my 8mb broadband for the foreseeable future. I know 8mb is lot more than what other people are getting but it's not enough to stream HD.

I guess this news is little surprise then given even if they did enable my exchange I was not going to get 40mb until they upgraded my cabinet.

What a massive flop from BT.


February 21, 2011, 10:33 pm

@Ala Miah: "....they wouldn't explain why"

That's possibly because you don't have enough affluent, tech-savvy neighbours (i.e. potential customers) to justify BT's expenditure in upgrading your cabinet. BT don't usually explain this reasoning because business decisions don't play well to disgruntled customers. Unfortunately, public service isn't the primary concern of private enterprise.


February 21, 2011, 10:58 pm

@Chris: "Unfortunately, public service isn't the primary concern of private enterprise"... Very true, but sadly nowadays for many companies (especially internet and telephone service providers) nor is it the secondary, tertiary or even denary concern. To adapt a phrase, they are "Too big to give a toss".


February 22, 2011, 12:59 am

Most readers on here are lucky to even have operational cabinets! The ones in our neighbourhood constantly attract the attention of vandals who open the cabinets with brute force and either rip out or cut the wiring looms inside. BT don't give a toss because a couple of cabinets is nothing compared to corporate customers who expect a reasonable level of service.

Tim Sutton

February 22, 2011, 1:42 am

Its extremely tough to make a business case for infrastructure investment that will never pay for itself.

That's where government needs to step in with the public credit card, but unfortunately the previous owners ran up rather a large bill which has to be paid off first.


February 22, 2011, 2:56 am

@Energiser Bunny and Ala Miah - Ah, 6meg and 8meg, how I wish I could get that service! :-) Personally im trundling away with 1.5meg as well and that's the best I can apparently get where I live in Berkshire, according to samknows...


February 22, 2011, 4:25 am

@Tim Sutton: the problem is that BT should have been incrementally upgrading the network as it went along over the years rather than just leaving the aging copper cable system to stagnate for years. Now they're suddenly going "oh crap, the technology is nearly obsolete" whereas Virgin Media HAVE been incrementally upgrading their infrastructure and suddenly BT has a massive catchup and capital outlay!


February 22, 2011, 10:23 am

avoid ADSL like the plague. end of story.

Glenn Gore

February 22, 2011, 3:19 pm

I feel your pain. Over here in the U.S., when a cellphone company installs "4G" in one cell site on the east coast and in one on the west coast, this enables them to brag on & on about having a "nationwide" or "coast to coast" 4G cellular network, when in reality the service might not be available ANYWHERE in between those two points. Companies should realize they are doing themselves no service and only alienating any potential new customers and putting off current customers by advertising something that is not and might not ever be available in their neighborhood.


February 22, 2011, 3:51 pm


I'd say the download speed is a red herring its the upload speed thats a key difference. Moving to 5Mb/10Mb uploads radically changes things.


February 23, 2011, 1:36 pm

@ChaosDefinesOrder The issue BT has had is that Oftel have been regulating their wholesale pricing. Forcing them to rent their core asset (final mile) at a fixed price. Same issue as the Post Office has which is why they are also in the mire.

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