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Spring Statement allocates funding to full-fibre broadband projects

Last year's Autumn Budget 2017 saw the launch of a £190million Challenge Fund to help roll out full-fibre to local areas with the aim of providing more reliable broadband to more homes and businesses. Today's Spring Statement has allocated the first wave of funding, providing over £95 million for 13 areas across the UK.

These areas spread across the UK will benefit from the first wave of funding from the Government’s Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) and include: Armagh City, (including Banbridge & Craigavon), Belfast, Blackpool, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Coventry (including Solihull & Warwickshire), The Highlands, London, Manchester, Mid Sussex, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth, and Wolverhampton. £95 million has been allocated to successful projects.

Whilst 95% of UK premises can now get superfast broadband, only 3% have access to gigabit-capable full fibre infrastructure. With the need for faster connectivity expected to dramatically increase over the coming years, the LFFN programme aims to leverage local and commercial investment in full fibre across the whole of the UK landscape and will do this trough funding a series of projects that seek to stimulate the market by making the deployment of gigabit-capable full fibre infrastructure more commercially viable.

The successful projects include: using hospitals, health centres and GP surgeries as “anchor tenants” - providing a full-fibre “hub” which surrounding homes and businesses can then also be connected to; upgrading schools, libraries and emergency response buildings to gigabit-capable full fibre connections; strategic re-purposing of existing infrastructure, allowing full fibre to be rolled out at a fraction of what it would otherwise cost and creating “fibre spines” along major transport routes and public building networks. These extend a supplier’s fibre footprint, making full fibre connections more available to surrounding homes and businesses.

The LFFN programme is part of the government’s £31 billion National Productivity Investment Fund aimed at improving productivity, which is key to raising living standards. A main focus of the government’s Industrial Strategy is ensuring the right connectivity is in place for the for the UK’s digital economy to thrive, and the LFFN programme forms a vital part of this work.

Neil Tyler

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