The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 22 November 2017 that local bodies could start applying for funding from the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Challenge Fund. The aim of the fund is to help locally let projects across the UK leverage local and commercial investment in full fibre, which is the "gold standard" for fast and reliable broadband.
The LFFN Challenge Fund is part of the Government's £740m Nation Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to support the next generation of digital infrastructure. The Challenge Fund will periodically announce waves of funding available for local bodies to bid into, and bids will be selected on a competitive basis. The aim is to help deliver projects that can meet the objectives of the LFFN Programme:
Simulate more commercial investment to deliver more gigabit-capable connectivity.
Directly maximise the availability and benefit of gigabit-capable broadband services to public sector, businesses and residential users.
Improve Commercial Investment and conditions in local areas.
The Chancellor announced in the 13th March 2018 Spring Statement the first successful wave of the challenge fund providing over £95 million for 13 areas.
We plan to open the next wave of the Challenge Fund during summer 2018.
A number of projects are currently underway to test the delivery methods outlined in the Challenge Fund prospectus, including the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme market test.