Up to 34,000 homes and businesses in a swanky London borough look set to lose out on high-speed broadband after BT has announced it is pulling out of installation operations following a disagreement with the local council.
The telecoms giant is recalling engineers from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) - long established as one of London's most exclusive and expensive enclaves - after 96 of its 108 applications for street level fibre cabinets were turned down by the authority.
A BT spokesman confirmed that it is halting operations in the area, the latest in a line of broadband-related spats involving the company.
"We can confirm we have ceased deployment of fibre broadband in Kensington and Chelsea. This is unfortunate but we were left with no option after having the vast majority of our applications rejected," he said.
He added that the council's decisions were not necessarily in the best interest of borough residents, and that government decision makers in other parts of London were doing more to keep pace with new technologies.
"Other councils, including those of neighbouring boroughs, have shown a greater eagerness to enjoy the benefits of fibre broadband. We will re-focus our engineers' efforts in areas where authorities have taken a positive approach," he continued.
In response, the RBKC council has ventured that BT's plans failed to take into account areas of sensitivity in the borough, and that it hoped other providers would offer superfast broadband to residents "without ruining our historic streetscape."
Prior to the row in Kensington and Chelsea, BT claim to have installed upwards of 40,000 fibre cabinets on streets across London, including in areas where local conservation was an important consideration.