We all rely so much on the internet these days. Whether it's for keeping in touch with our friends, ordering shopping, watching Netflix or building up a business, we all need decent broadband. It's become an essential part of modern life.
That's why I have been campaigning for better broadband in Dover and Deal – particularly in the villages where speeds in some areas were painfully slow.
For example, residents in places like Lydden and Temple Ewell had internet speeds of less than two megabytes per second – ten times slower than parts of Dover itself. It caused real problems. Children needed it for school, parents needed it for work, and businesses needed it to function. Online gaming and other multimedia weren't even options for some residents. And they were endlessly fobbed off by those who were supposed to be fixing the problem.
I kept on at BT Openreach – saying they needed to get this sorted. Eventually they gave a commitment to install a street cabinet with new fibres in Canterbury Road, Lydden, on the southern edge of Chunnel Plant Hire's depot. Last month Kent County Council confirmed the cabinet is at last in place and residents can now ask to be connected to it.
The speed of KCC and Openreach's approach to this was more dial-up than superfast – so I'm delighted the cabinet is now up and running and residents can get connected to proper broadband. Now we need to see improvements in places like Eastry, Mill Hill and Capel.
I've long campaigned on this issue because I know how vital good internet is for all of us – and will only become more so in the future. Every chance I get I tell ministers how frustrating slow internet is for people in Dover and Deal and that it needs to be improved across the whole area. So I am glad they have acted. The Government has now made a commitment that by 2020, everyone will have a legal right to high speed broadband. A £1.7 billion project has also been rolled out to areas deemed "not commercially viable" by industry. This has reached more than 4.5 million premises, mostly in rural areas.
And we're seeing improvements already. New official figures show that Dover and Deal are above average for superfast speeds. According to the statistics, 92.6% homes in our area are able to access superfast broadband, compared to 91.4% across the UK. In Dover and Deal, just 2.1% of homes are unable to receive speeds of at least 10 megabytes per second, compared to 3% nationally.
Since those figures were compiled last May, the Government has confirmed that 95% of the UK now has access to superfast broadband.
Great progress has been made in recent years. Now we need to see a fully connected country. And that includes access to decent broadband right across our corner of Kent.
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