One of the biggest infrastructure projects in Kent’s history was announced yesterday, as better broadband is delivered across the county by Kent County Council and BT – starting this year!
The partnership is backed by £10m of council funding £9.87m from central government and £19.6m from BT. The contract was signed on Monday, following the enormously successful ‘Make Kent Quicker’ campaign – which saw thousands of people sign up and say they wanted more from their broadband.
Championed by the late Kevin Lynes of KCC, the Make Kent Quicker project was set up to bring broadband to every home and business in Kent and Medway – and make sure that most will be able to access the next generation of superfast services. Without this project, many rural business and communities would continue to have either no or very slow broadband services as there are no market-led plans to upgrade infrastructure in many rural parts of the county.
Now, the combination of public funding and private investment, alongside existing roll-out plans, will make sure that at least 95% of properties in Kent will have access to higher-speed fibre broadband by the end of 2015 (with over 90% having access to superfast speeds of 24mbps and above) – and every property in the project area able to access download speeds of at least 2mbps.
Surveyors will be making their way across Kent during the rest of this year with 2014 and 2015 expected to be particularly busy as hundreds of miles of fibre are installed, helping to keep the county connected and competitive.
As a result of this new contract, thousands of homes and businesses in Kent and Medway stand to benefit and the improvement could deliver £1.5bn to the county’s economy each year.
Roger Gough, KCC Cabinet member for business strategy, performance and health reform, said: “This is great news for Kent and marks the start of a particularly large-scale, landmark infrastructure project for Kent, which is about making sure that no one misses out on broadband. Just as the thousands of miles of rail and roads are essential in bringing the county together, this is an essential network for Kent. I am looking forward to seeing how, by working with BT, we can keep the county connected and competitive for the future. I would like to thank everyone who got involved in the ‘Make Kent Quicker’ campaign, which was crucial in showing that the county wanted the improvements that are now on their way.”
Bill Murphy, BT’s managing director for next generation access, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Kent and will position the county as a broadband leader – and ahead of the chasing pack. BT is delighted to be partnering them on this far-reaching plan. This beautiful county, home to the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, will now start to see high-speed fibre broadband roll-out extended and this will enable more local businesses to think global as well as enhancing education and transforming the way consumers use the internet.”
Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said: “Kent is now well and truly on the way to providing better broadband access and speeds to the entire county. This project will deliver superfast broadband to thousands of homes and businesses and bring a massive boost to the local economy.”
The benefits to Kent businesses will be significant, facilitating a new wave of innovation across the county and delivering a major competitive advantage over other regions. You can preview some of the most important opportunities that will emerge at the Tomorrow’s Business Showcase within this year’s Kent 2020 Vision LIVE on 25th April: www.kent2020.co.uk.