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Bexley Bids £8m to Build Local Full Fibre Gigabit Broadband Network

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018 (10:39 am) - Score 809
fibre optic and ethernet network cables

The London Borough of Bexley has become the latest local authority to put in a bid to the UK government’s £200m Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) programme, which could help to build a Gigabit broadband capable network to connect local public sector and business sites.

The bid is for £5m in the form of a government grant, which would be matched by around £3m of public funding (details). If successful then £7m would be invested to build the new ultrafast broadband network, while the remaining £1m would be used to support a Gigabit voucher scheme for local businesses to help them get connected.

As part of this the local authority, which is working alongside the Bexley Clinical Commissioning Group (Bexley CCG), hopes to encourage a private sector partner to build the network (e.g. Cityfibre) and link around 300 public sector sites (buildings). On top of that the new fibre optic infrastructure would also be made available to ISPs and local businesses.

All of this is said to be in keeping with the council’s digital infrastructure plan, which seeks “in fill” to help existing homes gain access to super and ultra-fast broadband. On top of that they also want all new developments in the area to be built with a “choice of ultra-fast broadband infrastructure providers” (plans exist for 31,000 new homes by 2050) and to foster “borough wide” coverage of “high-speed” mobile or other wireless services.

Cllr Don Massey, Deputy Leader of the Council, said:

“The bid is part of our ambitious plans to provide Bexley with the very latest Gigabit digital infrastructure. Not only that, it will save money and improve the delivery of public services for years to come.

This bid is part of our ambitious plans to improve the borough’s broadband connectivity,” explained Cllr Linda Bailey, Cabinet member for Regeneration and Growth. “We’ve planned the project carefully to support our plans for growth and support local businesses.”

Bexley is by no means the only local authority to make such a bid to the LFFN programme (e.g. Norfolk’s £13m bid) and all of the proposals tend to follow a similar design, although as yet the Government has not confirmed which of the bids will be approved. £200m might seem like a lot of money but when spread across the United Kingdom, and focused upon expensive “full fibre” (FTTP) infrastructure, it won’t go very far.

As Thinkbroadband have also correctly pointed out, Bexley itself is already far from being a digital notspot. Overall some 96.6% of premises in the borough are already estimated to be within reach of a “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) capable network and “ultrafast” (100Mbps+) coverage is at 75.8%; the latter is largely thanks to Virgin Media.

However some small areas of poor coverage / slow speeds do remain and it’s currently unclear how much propriety Bexley will get from the Government, versus other less well developed areas. If the bid is successful, work would begin immediately to procure the new network during 2018/19.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. I’d like to think this might lead to being able to get more than 40Mbps from the phone line, but I suspect it’s more likely to lead to a faster connection at the library or GP’s office. Though they’re important, too!

    In terms of notspots, a lot of the commercial storefronts are stuck on ADSL, although maybe that’s not so much an issue for what they need.

    • On second thought… I am, technically, an SME, and I even run a cloud-based business! And the local GP’s office is just a few hundred meters down the road. Perhaps it’s time to pick up the phone (or write an email) to the council…

  2. Very good news to hear. I think this is a long time coming and like you say, it will save money in the long run as ultimately its an investment for Bexley in it’s future!

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