The Government has today confirmed which UK regions have so far secured £53m out of the £95m allocation that was made available to local authorities as part of the £190m Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) challenge fund last year (Wave 3), which aims to stimulate commercial investment in “gigabit capable” broadband networks.
The aim of the LFFN fund is simply to help spread Gigabit (1000Mbps+) class connections to “key public buildings and businesses, with the expectation that this leads to broadband providers (ISP) creating additional connections to local homes and businesses.”
So far we’ve seen this investment being spread via series of pilot projects (£10.4m) and last year a second allocation (Wave 2) of £95.5m was released to successful bidders, which covered 13 different areas / projects across the UK (here and here). A further £95m was then offered during late 2018 as part of Wave 3 and this adopted a different process (here), albeit with the same broad ambition to stimulate “full fibre” availability.
Many of the winning approaches have involved a mix of aggregated demand schemes, as well as opening access to existing public sector infrastructure and dark fibre builds etc. Sadly today’s announcement doesn’t include any detail on the various accepted projects, although we have already reported on several of them (e.g. Shetland’s £2m LFFN bid).
Wave 3 LFFN Winners (So Far)
Colchester £3.5 million
Rutland £2.0 million
Isle of Wight £0.8 million
Shetland Islands £2.0 million
Norfolk £8.0 million
South Essex £4.5 million
North Wales £8.0 million
Stoke-on-Trent £9.2 million
Northern Ireland £15.0 million
The LFFN programme is expected to run until 31st March 2021 and is being used to support the Government’s “strategy for delivering a nationwide full fibre network by 2033.” At present only 6% of UK premises have access to such a network but this is rising at an increasingly rapid pace (see our Summary of Full Fibre Plans).