There is a recognition that to deliver the modern economy and compete in the global market place pre- and post-Brexit UK must have the appropriate ‘tools’ and infrastructure.
The UK Government has established several publicly funded initiatives, namely:
- Digital Infrastructure Investment fund (DIIF): on 3 July 2017 the £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment fund announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement went live, with the aim of supporting alternative network providers in deploying ultrafast broadband;
- Additionally, within the Budget 2017 it announced the set-up of a separate £200 million local full-fibre network programme (LFFN) that aims to ‘fund a programme of local projects to test ways to accelerate market delivery of new full-fibre broadband networks’ (e.g. full-fibre connection vouchers for businesses, connecting public sector sites and making public sector assets [e.g. cable ducts and street furniture] more accessible.
In respect of the latter, on 26 July the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) sent a communication to all public sector chief executives stating that it was inviting expressions of interest from bodies interested the LFFN challenge fund.
Letters of expression of interest by cities/regions are to be lodged with DCMS by 23 August 2017 and this will be followed by a detailed application process in autumn/winter 2017. DCMS funding should be spent in the financial year 2018/19.