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Virgin Media has announced that up to 108,000 homes and business in Kent are to be connected to its fibre optic network.

The rollout will form part of the ongoing Project Lightning, a £3 billion scheme to extend ultrafast fibre broadband to 17 million homes by 2019.

Virgin Media has already commenced deployment of the technology in Ashford, where up to 8,000 new premises will be connected before the end of 2018.

Entry level download speeds will be 100Mbps and will reach up to 300Mbps for residents and 350Mbps for small businesses.

Virgin Media believes this is a significant development, as the average download speed in Kent is just 18Mbps.

The Project Lightning upgrades also mean residents can make the most of Virgin Media's V6 TV set-top box, which enables viewers to stream live programmes, recordings, on-demand shows and movies.

Users of the 4K-ready device can view up to 245 TV channels, including 50 in HD, as well as an extensive on-demand library of box sets and films.

Neil Bartholomew, Regional Director for the South-East at Virgin Media, commented: "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."

Damian Green, the Work and Pensions Secretary and the MP for Ashford, added that ultrafast broadband is a "huge boon" to households and businesses in the area.

He said he is delighted the technology will become more widely available in Ashford, as this is "what is needed to make our area even more successful in the future".

This latest announcement comes shortly after Virgin Media confirmed a similar move in Devon, with 42,000 homes and businesses set to be connected to its fibre optic network.

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