Public Services > Local Government

Spring Statement allocates £95m for local full-fibre broadband projects

David Bicknell Published 13 March 2018

13 UK areas to benefit from the first wave of funding from government’s £190m Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) announced by Chancellor in government finances update


Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s Spring Statement today carried details of the winning bidders for the first wave of funding from the Government’s £190m Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) Challenge Fund.

£95m has been allocated to successful projects, with the winning bidders named as Armagh City, (including Banbridge & Craigavon), Belfast, Blackpool, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Coventry (including Solihull & Warwickshire), The Highlands, London, Manchester, Mid Sussex, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth, and Wolverhampton.

Although 95% of UK premises can now get superfast broadband, only 3% actually have access to gigabit-capable full fibre infrastructure, the government said. With the need for faster connectivity expected to dramatically increase over the coming years, the LFFN programme plans to leverage local and commercial investment in full fibre across the whole of the UK landscape. It is doing so by 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 will 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 itself is part of the government’s £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund, which is aimed at improving productivity. The next wave of the LFFN Challenge Fund is expected to open this summer.

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