Faster Broadband

Broadband Update for Brenchley & Matfield


Most local residents will know that Brenchley telephone exchange has been upgraded to enable a fibre-optic broadband service which can provide significantly faster speeds. At the recent Parish Plan Open Day, some people expressed concern that they are still unable to access faster broadband speeds. One reason for this is that the upgrade progamme has not yet been completed. The summary below provides the story so far and indicates what is happening now.

  • ▪  We have had two major broadband campaigns in our villages, spearheaded by the Parish Council and involving house-to-house leafletting, etc - one in 2010 and the other in 2012. The one in 2012 was in support of a KCC/TWBC initiative for better broadband in the rural areas of Kent.
  • ▪  Kent County Council (KCC) has a pot of money from the government to improve rural broadband in areas where BT does not see an upgrade to fibre-optics as commercially viable. KCC has been working with BT to roll out a programme of improvements. For every £1 of government money, KCC has invested £1 and BT has contributed £2.
  • ▪  The original plan (in line with central government objectives) was to ensure that 90% of the Kent population had access to fast broadband by the end of 2015. In 2012, it looked as if the Brenchley exchange would fall in the bottom 10%. Thus our campaign. This was successful and, in 2013, we were told that Brenchley would be upgraded. The exchange was enabled for fast fibre-optic broadband at the end of 2014.
  • ▪  Upgrading the exchange is only part of the story. There then has to be a fibre-optic link to the green street cabinets from which copper cables radiate out to individual houses. Some but not all of these cabinets have been upgraded so far. It seems that the most commercially viable cabinets have been done first, ie those with the most connections to houses. Broadly speaking, it appears that the main areas of the villages can now access a fast service but some of the more rural areas cannot.
  • ▪  The government and thus KCC have now upped the targets. Phase 2 of the programme started in January and is designed to provide fast broadband access to 95% of the population by the end of 2017. KCC have more money to spend on this in association with BT.
  • ▪  It seems that most (and perhaps all) of our remaining street cabinets will be upgraded in Phase 2. KCC has a broadband postcode checker which will tell you what the position is with regards to individual postcodes -
  • ▪  From some superficial use of this postcode checker, it seems that all but a handful of households in Brenchley/Matfield either already have access to fast broadband or will get it in Phase 2.
  • ▪  However, one problem with the technology is that fibre-optic cables only go as far as the green street cabinets; traditional copper cables continue from the cabinets to individual houses. The further away someone lives from the cabinet that serves their phone, the slower broadband speeds will be, even if the cabinet itself has been upgraded - although the government and KCC are committed to ensuring that everyone can access at least 2Mbs.

    What should you do?

    If you don't know whether you can get faster broadband or not, use the KCC postcode checker.

    If that says that you already have acess to faster speeds, speak to your broadband provider about plans and tariffs for the improved system and about the speeds you can expect to see.

    If the checker says that your area is due for an upgrade under Phase 2 of the improvement programme, then you will have to wait for a while but faster speeds should be available in less than two years.

    If you have any queries or if the checker is not optimistic about your prospects for better broadband, please let the webmaster know by clicking on the 'broadband report' button on the right hand side of this page. If there are concentrations of problem areas in the parish, we can put these to KCC and see if something can be done.