Chancellor Philip Hammond has allocated £95m from his Spring Statement to bring full-fibre broadband connections to 13 locations in the country.
The funding is part of the government’s £190m Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) launched in Autumn Budget last year, which aims to help more homes and businesses to access the fastest and most reliable broadband.
Although 95% of premises in the UK are ready to get super-fast broadband, only 3% have access to gigabit-capable full fibre infrastructure, despite the UK being voted to have the quickest and reliable broadband. Therefore, as the demand for faster connectivity is expected to grow dramatically in the near future, the programme will look to leverage local and commercial investment in full fibre across the length and breadth of the UK landscape.
This will be done by the LFFN financing a series of projects, which aim to stimulate the market by making the deployment of gigabit-capable full fibre infrastructure more commercially workable.
Included in the list of 13 areas selected for the first wave of funding are Armagh City, (including Banbridge and Craigavon), The Highlands, London, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Coventry (including Solihull and Warwickshire), Belfast, Blackpool, Manchester, Mid Sussex, Portsmouth, Wolverhampton and North Yorkshire.
Of the locations allocated the finances, Manchester will receive the highest amount of funding being given £23.8m, followed by North Yorkshire receiving £15.1m and Belfast being allocated £11.5m.
One of the projects that will benefit from the funding is the creation of ‘fibre spines’ along major transport routes and public building networks. These extend the fibre footprint of a supplier while enabling opportunity for more connections to nearby homes and businesses.
Other projects to get financial support from the government include one that proposes to use hospitals, health centres and GP surgeries as anchor tenants of full fibre hubs. Another project will see upgrading schools, libraries and emergency response buildings to full fibre connections that are capable of delivering bandwidths of Gbps.