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A sleepy Kent village has been fired into the 21st century with the switch-on of the county’s first high-speed broadband cabinet.
The launch in Densole, near Folkestone, was the first from a scheme rolling out superfast internet connections to rural areas, funded by Kent County Council, Broadband Delivery UK and BT.
It means 384 homes will be able to place orders for the new service, launched three months ahead of schedule.
The council has invested £10m in the Making Kent Quicker project, along with £19.6m provided by BT.
KCC cabinet member for economic development Mark Dance said: “This is an important step forward.
“High-speed access to the internet has never been more important to everyone – from small businesses, to students and families.
“It will also help older people in Kent take advantage of systems like Telehealth and Telecare, which can help them to stay in their own homes while accessing vital healthcare services.”
DEFRA minister Dan Rogerson MP added: “Broadband plays an essential role in bridging the gap between urban and rural businesses and communities, helping to build both a stronger economy and a fairer society.
“Kent’s superfast broadband announcement is part of a transformation of services happening throughout the UK.
“By boosting the economy super-fast broadband will transform the opportunities for rural businesses, families and communities across the country.”
The project aims to give superfast broadband access to 95% of homes and businesses within the next 18 months.
Among those benefitting from the new access is Lynda Goodier, from Densole, who runs Cancer Support, a help network for people undergoing treatment for the disease.
She said: “I was very excited when I heard that the first rural broadband cabinet was to go live in our village.
“It has already made a huge difference to our lives and the way I stay in contact with the people I need to.
“I use the internet more than I use the phone and I also have my own website where people that need support can get in touch.
“So the faster broadband speeds have really made a difference to the way we operate here from my home in Densole.”
Builder Paul Coombs runs his own business from his home in the village.
He said: “What I find so frustrating with the current speeds is that if a customer sends me a PDF it can take several attempts and sometimes hours to open it, so it can be really time consuming when you are running a business.
“Superfast broadband will improve that no end and that will be really helpful.”
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