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DCMS launches Gigabit broadband challenge to boost Full Fibre networks

Matteo Natalucci Published 23 November 2017

£190m programme aims to stimulate investment in full fibre networks across the whole of the UK landscape


The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has launched a £190m programme to accelerate the rate at which Full Fibre networks are made available across the UK.

The LFFN Programme aims to stimulate commercial investment in full fibre networks across the UK , including rural and urban locations in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, by demonstrating approaches that encourage additional private investment and by making sustainable commercial deployments viable.

The LFFN Challenge Fund is a government capital grant programme of up to £200m with £190m remaining for ‘competitive waves’, to help deliver the fastest and most reliable digital communications network available. Local bodies who can harness public sector connectivity and aggregate private sector demand to stimulate the market to build new and extend existing fibre networks in their local areas can apply to the Challenge Fund.

This programme comes as part of the government’s expanded £31 billion National Productivity Investment Fund. This fund has already earmarked £740 million specifically for improving Britain’s digital infrastructure.

The programme currently has access to £200m of the £738m National Productivity Investment Fund, with £190m remaining after Wave 1 projects. The Challenge Fund is available in multiple ‘Waves’ from 2017-2021 and all programme funding must be spent and claimed by March 2021.

Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock said, “World class connectivity is increasingly essential to people at work and at home. It’s vital to ensure the UK’s future competitiveness in the global market and our ability to attract investment. Full fibre is fundamental for fashioning a Britain fit for the future.”

“We’re looking to a broad range of local bodies – Local Authorities, Combined Authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships as well other local public / government bodies such as health, education or transport bodies. We will be looking for ambitious proposals that harness public sector connectivity and aggregate private sector demand to stimulate the market to build new and extend existing fibre networks.”

Funding will be awarded from the Challenge Fund to local bodies on a competitive basis.

The funding will be released in Waves and local bodies can apply for funding as each Wave is announced including for additional funding to grow an existing project over future Waves. Local bodies can only submit one funding request per Wave using one or more of the four delivery methods.

The Challenge Fund will open with Wave 2 in November 2017, with further Waves to be announced later. The LFFN Programme will close on March 2021 by which time all LFFN funding will need to have been spent and claimed.

Local bodies have until the 26th January 2018 to apply for Wave 2 funding. DCMS expects to evaluate the projects and make a selection before March 2018.

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