Almost all of London is expected to be linked to cable television by the end of next year, despite protests from householders - ranging from polite letters to bomb threats - who are angered at having their streets dug up.

Simon Bond, a spokesman for Nynex CableComms, one of six firms working in the capital, said they had run into trouble when setting up equipment in Bromley. 'We had someone threaten to bomb our boxes. We didn't take the threat seriously and in the end nothing was blown up, but we have had our fair share of hassle. It's a very emotive subject.'

However, Niall Hickey, spokesman for the Cable Television Association, the industry's trade body, said most complaints were of a minor nature. 'The cable companies are no worse than anyone else digging the roads up. They use the same contractors.

'But people don't own the street. It's everyone's street. It is a public highway. And at least 20 per cent of people do want cabling. It's as high as 30 to 40 per cent in some places.'

Cable companies are allowed to excavate roads and lay cables without permission from the local authority. They are, however, required by law to co-ordinate engineering works with the boroughs.

Cabling in London and its environs has mushroomed during the past year since London Interconnect Ltd, an umbrella company housing the 'Big Six cabling firms, was set up.

The six have each been allotted their own franchise areas to work within. A spokesman said up to 200,000 homes are now connected and that figure is expected to double by the start of 1995.

This summer will see many more lines being laid across the capital. In Merton, Sutton, Richmond-upon-Thames and Kingston-upon-Thames, cables are being laid at a rate of almost one mile each day.

In east London, Redbridge Borough Council were surprised to count 91 different gangs of cabling workmen digging up roads at the same time. At the end of last year, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea became the first local authority to successfully prosecute a cable laying company by taking Videotron West London Ltd to court for breaching the New Roads and Streetworks Act, 1991.

The council said the contractors had failed to take adequate measures to ensure the safety of traffic and pedestrians and that their excavations had 'completely blocked an entrance to the Violet Melchett Children's Clinic'. The company pleaded guilty and was fined pounds 1,150 by magistrates.

Videotron Corporation, of which Videotron West London Ltd is a part, suffered problems in Hammersmith recently when engineers hit a water main while digging a trench. Homes and businesses were flooded and extensive damage was reported. Compensation is promised but a figure has yet to be agreed.

(Photograph omitted)