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Villages target in broadband battle

By Sevenoaks Chronicle  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

By Harriet Cooke harriet.cooke@sevenoaks-chronicle.co.uk

frustrated:  Underriver residents  have been plagued by slow broadband

frustrated: Underriver residents have been plagued by slow broadband

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THE campaign to improve broadband services in Sevenoaks villages is gathering pace with not just one, but two companies now offering to improve online access.

Internet company Gigaclear, which is only available to rural areas, hopes to install fibre optic cables to houses in remote locations throughout the area.

Campaigner Mike Clyne, of Mill Lane in Underriver, said the reason internet is currently slow in his area is because houses have non-fibre optic connections, which work slower over distances and are affected by the weather.

Backing Gigaclear, he said the company would eradicate this problem, connecting a fibre optic cable from the main national network directly to homes.

The company require 190 residents or businesses to sign up to the £39-a-month scheme, and so far more than 150 have committed to it.

Joe Frost, marketing manager at Gigaclear, says they are just targeting small areas as "rural communities are poorly served across the country and they have the biggest need".

Gigaclear will be giving a presentation at the Underriver Village Hall on Saturday, January 26 to attract more residents to sign up for the specialised super-fast home broadband.

The presentations, at 10.30am and 1.30pm, are open to anyone in Underriver, Seal, Godden Green, Bitchet Green, Stone Street, Ivy Hatch, Shipbourne, Plaxtol, Dunks Green and Ightham.

But another company called Call Flow Solutions, based in East Peckham, is also offering improvements. It recently completed a KCC-funded scheme to deliver fast broadband to Crockenhill and the Well Hill area of Knockholt, and is now planning to extend its service.

It has deployed transmitters on the nearby Vodafone mast that can now offer a fast wireless broadband service to residents within a 11km radius. This will extend its coverage to most of Ightham, Ightham Common, Plaxtol, Ivy Hatch and parts of Seal and Sevenoaks not currently reached.

To sign up, users will need a radio receiver, typically mounted next to a TV aerial by one of Call Flow's installers. Andy Conibere, the firm's managing director , said: "We are delighted to have brought high speed, fibre optic and radio-based broadband to large parts of West Kent.

"Our expansion plans for 2013 will massively increase our radio footprint throughout Kent.

"Our innovative solution offers fast internet speeds, over longer distances than our competitors using similar fibre/cabinet and radio-based technology."

He admitted the system was not as fast as Gigaclear, but added there was no requirement for people to campaign for the scheme as it would definitely be happening in Spring 2013.

Call Flow charges between £8.99 and £22.99 a month.

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