DCMS wants all Gigabit fibre networks, offers £190 million funding boost

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) aims to stimulate investment in full fibre networks across the UK, by launching a £190 million programme. The LFFN programme intends to stimulate commercial investment into full-fibre networks across the whole of the UK. The government capital grant programme- the LFFN Challenge Fund of up to £200 million, has £190 million for competitive waves. The programme will help to install the most reliable and fastest digital network available.

Local bodies can apply to the Challenge fund. The programme comes as part of the expanded £31 billion National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) of which the government has earmarked £740 million already for specifically improving the digital infrastructure. The programme has £200 million available from the £738 million of the NPIF. After ‘Wave 1’ projects £190 million remains.

The Challenge Fund is available from 2017 to 2021 in multiple ‘Wages’. Funds must be claimed and spent by the March of 2021. Funding will be awarded to local bodies from the Challenge Fund on a competitive basis. Funding will be released in ‘Waves’. As each Wave is announced, local bodies can apply, but can submit only one request per Wave, by using one or more of the 4 delivery methods. Additional funding to expand an existing project over future Waves, is also allowed.

The Challenge Fund will open in November 2017 for Wave 2 funding. Local bodies have to apply for Wave 2 funding by 26th January. Further Waves will be announced later. DCMS would evaluate and make a selection of the projects by March 2018. All LFFN funding need to be claimed and spent by this time.

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