Kent County Council has spent £486,000 to fund the roll-out of high-speed broadband to nearly a dozen villages and parishes in BT and Virgin Media “not-spots”.
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A spokesman for the council said more than 90% of businesses in Kent were small or medium-sized firms, many of which depended on internet access.
Kentish towns and parish councils can apply to the council for grants to help cover the costs of getting high-speed internet access. “We will also offer them help and guidance in what to ask for, and how to go about it,” the spokesman said.
He said Kent County Council (KCC) had given grants in 2006/07 to enable the Elmsted, Milstead and Selsted exchanges for broadband. These were the last three exchanges in Kent that lacked any broadband. In 2008/09 it gave grants to Barham, Sutton-by-Dover, Tilmanstone and Ulcombe Parish Councils to bring broadband to households and businesses unable to obtain broadband, In 2009/10, grants went to Iwade, Kings Hill, Selling and Womenswold parish councils.
“So far, £486,000 has been paid in grants. This has directly benefited 6,800 properties,” he said. This has cut the number of Kentish homes without broadband from 37,958 to 21,026 since 2007, he said.
KCC also used the Kent public sector network to increase the number of Kent exchanges providing business broadband from 31 to 53. KCC also provides and supports more than 800 public access terminals in over 100 libraries and gateways.
“We are hoping to make further grants next year,” the spokesman said.
The latest parish to receive a grant was Iwade, which has commissioned BT to deliver fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). This should give Iwade’s 1,350 premises access to broadband speeds of up to 40Mbps by autumn.