Manchester and Blackpool to get piece of £190m connectivity funding

Manchester and Blackpool are to benefit from the first wave of funding from the Government’s £190m Local Full Fibre Network.

First announced in the Chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn budget, yesterday’s spring statement 2018 has allocated the first wave of funding, providing more than £95m for 13 areas across the UK.

Alongside Manchester and Blackpool to put in successful bids, other areas to receive funding for LFFN include Armagh City (including Banbridge & Craigavon), Belfast, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Coventry (including Solihull & Warwickshire, The Highlands, London, Mid Susses, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth and Wolverhampton.

While 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.

It will do this through 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.

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 £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund aimed at improving productivity, which is key to raising living standards, say the Government.

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.

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