Kent's rural communities could benefit from a £1.5 million fund to beef up their broadband internet speeds, it was revealed today.
Villages that suffer from slow broadband can now bid for cash to bring them up to speed.
Under Kent County Council's Superfast Broadband Pilot Fund community groups, parish councils or local authorities could be awarded up to £100,000.
Applications must show the economic benefits of fast broadband and be submitted by April 14.
Kevin Lynes, KCC's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Development said: "Having access to fast broadband is as important as any other utility service.
"So many people need fast broadband to access services, buy and sell goods, run businesses, for education purposes or to simply enjoy in their spare time.
"Many rural areas have 'not spots' which means they have either slow broadband or no service at all.
"Successful bids will be able to make a real difference to local people and change their quality of life.
"It will also bring a tangible economic benefit by helping businesses run in rural areas, creating employment and wealth.
"However, there are only so many communities we can help, and ultimately by helping to prove the demand for broadband we hope the telecomms providers will take responsibility for bringing this technology to 'harder to reach' areas as well as benefiting from the more profitable urban areas.
"There will be further KCC funds available in the Summer and Autumn to enable a total of 15 areas to benefit, but it would be great to see the private sector recognising the need too."
Community groups will be able to apply for grants on thewww.kent.gov.uk/broadbandwebsite or an application form can be obtained by calling the KCC contact centre on 08458 247247.