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Ashford Borough Council in Kent Reports on Broadband Progress

Tuesday, Oct 3rd, 2023 (1:00 am) - Score 736
Bundle of optical fibers with lights in the ends lay on keyboard.

The Ashford Borough Council (ABC) in Kent, England, has published a review of the local area’s progress on improving broadband and have identified, perhaps unsurprisingly, that “more needs to be done” to ensure that all local residents and businesses benefit from access to “fast and reliable internet connections“.

The report notes that “superfast” broadband coverage (30Mbps or higher) has now reached 93% of local premises, while nearly half of the borough’s premises can also access a full fibre (FTTP) service (up by 27% in the last 12-months alone). The brief public summary doesn’t mention Virgin Media’s significant gigabit-capable coverage via their existing hybrid fibre coax network, but we’re told it does get covered in the main report.

The summary adds: “However, it is clear that more can be done to improve digital connectivity for local residents and businesses. We are seeing significant investment coming forward, especially in the form of Openreach and Netomnia providing FTTP for existing premises which will boost Full Fibre and Gigabit-speed broadband significantly to at least 55,000 premises as part of the current rollout.”

In addition, it’s highlighted that the Government’s future £112m Project Gigabit contract for Kent & Medway could potentially reach another 72,000 premises on top of that, including an estimated 6,400 premises in the Ashford borough. The contract for that is expected to be awarded imminently (here), although the council doesn’t expect to see much detail on this until early 2024.

Key Points from the Report

Cabinet noted the content of the report and acknowledged the broadband work undertaken in the past year. It reaffirmed that the delivery of broadband should remain a key priority in the Corporate Plan and approved a series of actions designed to accelerate further improvements, including:

➤ Continue to work with broadband providers to support improved connections and increase investment.

➤ Continue to support the rollout of FTTP to the council’s housing stock.

➤ Proactively engage with Mobile Network Operators and Mobile UK to seek improved mobile connectivity.

➤ Support KCC in their involvement in the Gigabit Programme and the delivery of this major investment and to seek maximum coverage across Ashford through this investment.

➤ Support the promotion of UK Gigabit Vouchers and related community projects to deliver digital infrastructure improvements in rural areas.

Council Leader Cllr Noel Ovenden said: “This excellent report highlights where the borough is provisioned regarding broadband and what we are currently doing to improve connectivity in both urban and rural settings. It describes the vital work that should be continued in the following year and the risks that inadequate broadband pose.”

The reality here is that, now the government have opted to centralised their funding for gigabit-capable broadband, there won’t be a lot of public money left for the council to conduct its own initiatives (local authorities are already under a lot of financial strain) and hence the lack of bolder commitments above. But the talk of more proactive engagement with mobile and broadband suppliers is still a positive sign.

We should point out that Hyperoptic and OFNL also both have smaller but still notable deployments in the town.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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