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Kent council called on to reveal extent of rural superfast broadband plans

Kent-based fibre broadband project Ultrafast Underriver has called on the local council to reveal the extent of its superfast broadband project. 

The government-funded Make Kent Quicker plan will connect 95 per cent of the county to superfast broadband, provided by BT. 

While the majority of people will be able to access broadband delivering speeds in excess of 24Mbps, those unlucky enough to be living in the 5 per cent will have to make do with a basic 2Mbps service. 

Kent council called on to reveal extent of rural superfast broadband plans

Read our guide to Gigaclear rural fibre broadbandThe Ultrafast Underriver project wants to help close this digital divide and aims deliver full FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) connections to families and firms in and around Underriver, near Sevenoaks. 

While it’s likely that some of the locations served by Ultrafast Underriver, Mike Clyne, the project leader, wants to know for sure. 

In a letter to the local council, Clyne said: 

“This information is needed on a street by street basis.  If it is only available on a postcode basis, where a postcode covers a wide geographical area we will need further detail because one end of a postcode could conceivable be an additional half mile away from a cabinet than the other end.”
 
Finding out where local authorities plan to roll out fibre has been difficult for local projects like Ultrafast Underriver. After pressure from parts of the government, BT said that it would be happy to reveal where it plans to dig, but has said that it’s up to local councils to provide this information. 

So far not every council has come forward to reveal where those on the slow side of the divide are located, making it hard for competition to come to the rescue. DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), which is responsible for BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) wants to change this and is considering forcing local government’s hands.

Ultrafast Underriver hopes to use Gigaclear’s FTTP technology, which can currently provide speeds of up to 1Gbps. Gigaclear specialises in deploying fibre to rural communities that want it, and chooses where to set up networks based on local demand. 

At the time of writing, Ultrafast Underriver requires 190 more signatures or ‘registration of interest’ before Gigaclear will give it the go-ahead. 

Gigaclear offers a ‘basic’ 50Mbps service for £37/month. There are plans to open up Gigaclear’s networks which would allow other ISPs to sell services to customers, turning it into a mini-Openreach. 

Image: James Laurence Stewart/Flickr

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