While a great deal of coverage has gone to superfast broadband of late, there is still the issue of meeting the Universal Service Commitment (USC) of 2Mbps for all by 2015. Kent County Council has been running a competitive tender and today we have learnt that Avanti Communications and VFast along with two other firms have got a place on the initial pilots that will spend £1.5 million to meet this USC.
While the satellite service is only offering speeds up to 10Mbps, it has the advantage of being independent of any other infrastructure (beyond power) for a property/business to receive service. The VFast service is also independent of any telephone line infrastructure, providing a symmetric 10Mbps service, with trials of 25Mbps in some areas. So for those suffering either no broadband, or very slow/intermittent service it looks like things will be improving in Kent (VFast coverage).
In Wales satellite broadband has been in use for not-spot coverage for some time, with a grant to cover the set-up costs for the dish. So we presume something similar will happen again in Kent, and for the other services the pilots are likely to comprise of funding to expand existing coverage areas, along with local publicity to ensure people affected become aware of a new option in their area for broadband.
The Kent County Council website does not have any details on the other two providers, but for those in Kent, the section of their website to keep an eye on is the Community Broadband section.