flings £95m at public sector superfast broadband rollouts

Local council or NHS? Step right this way. Not you, SMEs

The UK's Ministry of Fun is still trying to give away piles of cash to companies tempted to install superfast broadband, with £95m up for grabs from last autumn's commitment to splurge £195m.

The third round of the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Challenge Fund giveaway was rolled out today, aimed at enabling "gigabit capable connections to key public buildings and businesses" as well as homes.

Back in March the whole thing was kicked off, using a £195m giveaway that first came to public light in Chancellor Philip Hammond's Autumn Statement.

At the time, 13 areas in the UK were earmarked as recipients of LFFN cash, with specific things targeted for superfast goodness including hospitals and doctors' surgeries, and with the connections to these places being used as "fibre spines".

The Ministry of Fun (aka the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) told us that the LFFN was split into three "waves": wave one consisting of four market test pilots, total value £10m; wave two being £95m from the Challenge Fund; and wave three being today's announcement.

Rural broadband is one of the focuses of the project, with the announcement specifically mentioning "hard-to-reach areas". 5G is also a target, as is "public sector productivity".

"There will be no fixed date for formal submissions – instead, local bodies with an interest in bidding for the Challenge Fund are invited to submit an informal expression of interest to the programme," said DCMS in a statement.

While the trickle-down effect of these rollouts is intended to benefit the taxpayer, and that forms part of the stated intent of the LFFN project, the messaging is explicitly clear that this is taxpayers' money being spent to improve the lot of the public sector in the first instance. ®

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