Published: 18:45, 27 January 2020
| Updated: 18:45, 27 January 2020
Ultrafast broadband is on its way to 26 towns and villages in Kent.
Openreach has today announced a programme to introduce the technology to 'harder to reach' areas of the UK that have been dogged by slow speeds.
It means the full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network found in cities will be available in rural areas.
Digital economy specialist Callum Knowles, who is also an Ashford and Tenterden councillor, said: "This is the equivalent to being handed the keys to Porsche after driving a third-hand car.
"The aged copper-based network is being replaced with glass-fibre, the speed of which is phenomenal.
"It would take four hours for someone with a 25 Mbps to download a 4k film, but with the new speeds it could be done in minutes.
"In fact you could download every book in Ashford library in a matter of minutes."
Openreach is aiming to extend its full fibre technology to four million homes and businesses by March 2021 and has been buoyed by successful trials including one in Seal, where smarter working practices and new tools have enabled the firm to access difficult areas cost-effectively.
Laura Whelan, Openreach’s partnership director in the south-east, said the firm had been working alongside councils to upgrade more than 97% of the region to superfast broadband.
She said: "Today’s announcement is about taking that next step and building a full fibre network that is not only faster, but also more reliable and future-proof for generations to come.”
Mike Whiting, Kent County Council’s cabinet member for economic development, said: “We are delighted that so many of the harder-to-reach locations that Openreach is investing in for the south-east are in Kent.
"I have no doubt that full fibre will boost both the economy of the county and opportunities for people living and working in Kent, so this is great news for the area.”
Mr Knowles added: "Superfast broadband will really help businesses in the digital workplace to thrive, such as graphics or media firms, while allowing more people to work from home."
A report commissioned by Openreach by the Centre for Economics and Business Research showed that connecting everyone in south-east to full fibre broadband by 2025 would bring a £8.7 billion boost to the region’s economy, while better connectivity will bring 65,000 people back to work, by giving small businesses and entrepreneurs the tools to thrive.
The Kent locations to benefit from the high-tech upgrade are as follows: Sheerness; Minster; Queenborough; Borough Green; Wrotham; Ightham; Platt; Deal; Kingsdown; Ripple; Ringwould; Faversham; Sheldwich; Painter's Forstal; Davington; Hawkhurst; Sandwich; Eastry; Worth; Sevenoaks; Sevenoaks Weald; Tenterden; St Michaels; Wateringbury; West Kingsdown and Knockmill.
Mobile network EE earlier revealed it is rolling out its super-fast 5G services to three towns in the county - the first to receive the high-speed connection.