Better connected Ashford

Ashford – long recognised as one of the best connected towns in the South East thanks to its high speed rail services to London, Eurostar links to Europe and speedy motorway access – will also soon boast some of the fastest broadband access in the UK.

Virgin Media has announced that homes and businesses in the Kent town will be next to benefit from an ultrafast broadband and entertainment boost. As part of its Project Lightning expansion, Virgin Media plans to extend its fibre optic network to up to 108,000 homes and businesses across Kent.

This has the potential to transform the quality of broadband in a county where the average download speed is just 18Mbps.

Those who take Virgin’s internet services will be connected to ultrafast broadband with entry level download speeds of 100Mbps, and reaching up to 300Mbps for residents and 350Mbps for small businesses.

Work has already begun in Ashford to connect up to 8,000 new premises and is expected to be completed across Kent before the end of 2018.

For Ashford – the fastest growing town between London and Continental Europe and recognised as the best place to do business in Kent – the arrival of ultrafast broadband services comes after Ashford Borough Council successfully lobbied the Government to require local authorities to have planning policies setting out how digital infrastructure will be developed. This was included in February’s Housing White Paper.

Cllr Gerry Clarkson, Leader of Ashford Borough Council, said:

“A growing town like Ashford needs the very best modern technology and we are delighted Virgin Media has chosen our borough for such a significant digital infrastructure investment which will mean we will have some of the best broadband access in the country. This will make a big difference for our residents and businesses, making it easier, faster and more efficient to connect.

“We understand the significance of this type of broadband investment and Ashford has been at the forefront of pushing the fibre agenda.

“Its importance cannot be underestimated, which is why our Local Plan to 2030 includes an innovative Fibre to the Premises policy, ensuring all new developments in Ashford will benefit from this vital infrastructure and paving the way for similar policies within all local plans across the UK. Ashford has set the standard for others to follow.”

As a result of Ashford Borough Council encouraging housing developers to have meaningful conversations with broadband providers, around 15,000 new homes to be built in the borough in coming years will benefit from fast broadband connections.

The authority’s pioneering approach to digital infrastructure investment has led to it receiving letters of endorsement from the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Neil Bartholomew, Regional Director for the South East at Virgin Media, said: “We’re delighted to be expanding our network to tens of thousands more homes and businesses to help to make Kent a world class digital hotspot. Local residents and businesses will soon be getting the high-speed connectivity they deserve. We urge more people to come together and register their interest – your street could be next.”

Residents can benefit from the latest entertainment with the brand new smallest, smartest, fastest, 4k-ready Virgin TV V6 set-top box, with the ability to stream live TV, recordings, on demand shows and movies around the home. Plus, there is lots of great programming with up to 245 TV channels (including 50 HD channels) with Sky Sports, Sky Movies, BT Sport and Netflix, as well as an extensive TV on demand library of TV box sets and movies.

Backed by parent company Liberty Global, Virgin Media is investing £3bn to extend its ultrafast fibre broadband network to an additional four million premises, to reach a total of 17 million homes and businesses.

As network expansion continues across the UK, Virgin Media calls for more people to register interest at