Widespread reports that a street in Kent has the lowest broadband speeds in the UK do not tell the complete story as some residents receive speeds of up to 20Mbit/s, V3.co.uk has learned.
A report by Top10.com claimed that Railway Hill in Barham near Canterbury has the lowest broadband speeds in the UK at just 0.13Mbit/s based on speed tests carried out throughout 2010.
Harry Jones, a co-founder and director at Top10.com, explained to V3.co.uk that only 14 speed tests were carried out in the area. The small sample size may therefore have contributed to the report's skewed findings.
However, some residents in the street make use of a WiMax connection delivered by Vfast from the nearby village of Barham that offers speeds way above the national average.
"We have a repeater on Railway Hill to try and give everyone speeds of 2Mbit/s or more, and most of the residents in the area could get speeds up to 20Mbit/s," Vfast director Darren Brown told V3.co.uk.
Bob Parsons, a resident of Railway Hill and customer of Vfast, told V3.co.uk that he has been enjoying fast broadband for many years, and was on a WiMax service with the previous operator, the now defunct Talabria.
"Being covered by wireless broadband means we get very good speeds, and Kent County Council provided grants to residents to use the service as part of a drive to get all residents on speeds of 2Mbit/s or above," he said.
Parsons sent us a screen grab (below) of a speed test he carried out today which shows Vfast delivering speeds of 16.9Mbit/s.
Why some residents have ignored this offer from Kent County Council and stuck with slow broadband speeds is unclear, but the option is clearly there, highlighting that efforts to close the UK's digital divide are working.
Roger Gough, Kent County Council cabinet member for corporate support services, explained that the council has "a number of places" with no or low-speed broadband.
"To help reduce the number of 'not spots', we have provided money from our community broadband grant, which communities can bid for to part fund business cases for broadband providers to install fixed broadband services," he said.
"We have so far made £667,000 available with a further £100,000 being made available this financial year. This has benefited more than 11,000 homes and businesses and 17 communities."
One of these communities was the village of Iwade, which received funding from Kent County Council for BT to roll out broadband fibre to its exchanges for speeds of up to 40Mbit/s in July.
The village's parish council secured a grant of £13,000 for the project, which enabled the village to receive a further £62,000 from BT to fund the deployment.
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