Public bodies to bid for £95m broadband fund

Written by Hannah McGrath

The UK government has launched a new phase of its £190 million challenge to link local authority buildings to full-fibre broadband networks.

The third and final round of the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) challenge will offer public sector organisations a share of a £95 million fund to boost the roll out of ultra-high speed connectivity to regions across the UK.

It is hoped that the premises will act as ‘anchor tenants’ leading to the faster installation of full-fibre broadband connections in nearby homes and businesses.

The government said it is open to bids from projects designed to enable gigabit-capable connections to key public businesses, and is particularly keen to develop projects in rural or hard-to-reach areas in advance of the rollout of 5G wireless networks.

Minister for digital Margot James said: “We recently set out our ambition for a nationwide full-fibre broadband network by 2033, and initiatives like this will be instrumental in achieving that.

“We want to hear from any local authority interested in taking part, so we can work closely with them on their plans to help them secure funding,” she added.

The UK rollout of 5G enabled networks is not set to begin until 2020, meaning consumers in urban areas may have to wait until 2022 or later to see widespread coverage, with non-metropolitan areas waiting longer still.

Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has initiated auctions of 40MHz of spectrum space available to networks to help cope with anticipated demand.