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Slice of £3.6bn Committed for Great Broadband in 100 UK Towns

Sunday, July 28th, 2019 (5:01 pm) - Score 3,516
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The UK Government’s new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has announced a £3.6bn Towns Fund to support an initial 100 towns “so that they will get the improved transport and improved broadband connectivity that they need,” although yesterday’s speech to the Manchester Science and Industry Museum didn’t include any detail.

No doubt the above plan will be used to support Boris’s pledge to have “fantastic full fibre broadband sprouting in every household” by 2025 (currently coverage is 7% of the UK), although he is yet to detail how such a seemingly unachievable date can be met using Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) ISP technology that typically takes a couple of decades or more to rollout.

The news of a new £3.6bn Towns Fund does at least give us some indication of extra funding but we suspect that the transport side of things may suck up most of that. Separately there was a mention of the government’s plan to “invest in fibre roll-out and indeed we have just completed the build of a large fibre cable between Manchester and York alongside the Trans-Pennine railway route. This interconnects the Manchester and Leeds Internet Exchanges” (see here for details of that LFFN project).

Quite how the remaining funding will be used – with respect to broadband in the Towns Fund – is currently unclear, although the Government could consider an approach similar to the original Building Digital UK framework (general network rollout) or perhaps take an approach like the Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme (i.e. build the fibre into communities/public sites and then encourage private investment to extend it into homes etc.).

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, said:

“So today I want to set out what I think are the basic ingredients of success for the UK, and for the places we call home: our cities or our towns, our coastal communities and rural areas. There are four things I think we need to get right.

First is basic liveability. The streets need to be safe. There need to be enough affordable homes. There need to be jobs that pay good wages. There need to be great public services supporting families and helping the most vulnerable.

Second thing – connections. That means great broadband everywhere, and it means transport. Inspiration and innovation, cross fertilisation between people, literally and figuratively, cannot take place unless people can bump into each other, compete collaborate invent and innovate.

We need to literally and spiritually unite Britain, and that means boosting growth and bringing our regions together.

The third thing that places need is culture. People love Manchester because of the fantastic arts and entertainment here, the football and music, the heritage and the creative industries that make it such a lively, wonderful place to live and work.

We need to help places everywhere to strengthen their cultural and creative infrastructure, the gathering places that give a community its life.

And finally, the fourth thing – places need power and a sense of responsibility, accountability. Taking back control doesn’t just apply to Westminster regaining sovereignty from the EU. It means our cities and counties and towns becoming more self-governing.

Now if the Towns Fund sounds like something you’ve heard before then you’d be right. Back in March 2019 the Government announced its intention to launch a £1.6bn post-Brexit targeted Stronger Towns Fund that would be “used to create new jobs, help train local people and boost economic activity – with communities having a say on how the money is spent.” But the Stronger Towns Fund made no mention of broadband.

Under that plan £1 billion would be allocated using a needs-based formula. More than half this share (£583 million) will go to towns across the North with a further £322 million allocated to communities in the Midlands. Communities will be able to draw up job-boosting plans for their town, with the support and advice of their Local Enterprise Partnerships.

Another £600 million would then be available through a bidding process to communities in any part of the country. At the time the government said it would also seek to ensure towns across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will also benefit from the new funding. Local communities would be encouraged to come together to draw up proposals to “restore pride and create new jobs in their area.”

All of this was intended to complement the government’s City and Growth Deals initiatives. We assume that Boris’s £3.6bn Towns Fund is thus an enhanced version of the same plan, albeit with more than double the funding available.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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7 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT

    Depending on the details this may be a really bad idea that’ll bring commercial deployments to a halt. Why spend your own money when the taxpayer is going to subsidise you?

    Alexander needs to shut his mouth unless he has solid details. All his Trumpian bloviating and promising of everything to everyone is going to do is create uncertainty.

    We get it: he’s trying to bribe us with promises of how he’s going to use our money. Actually our children’s money too given there’s no way tax receipts will pay for this spending spree alongside plans for various tax cuts.

    • Avatar Gary

      Reading your second two paragraphs it seems like The UK just gained its own Version of the SNP.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @CarlT

      Agreed bad idea.

      I think probably a bad idea even if out of current commercial and future areas.

      Boris you could kill the present amazing full fibre momentum by throwing a small amount of money at the problem.

  2. Avatar Boris Johnson

    Boris doesn’t do detail as show by his recent smoked fish faux pas.

  3. Avatar A Man

    ‘cross fertilisation between people’

    Boris playing the see if anyone notices game.

  4. Avatar A Man

    ‘cross fertilisation between people’

    Boris playing the see if anyone notices game.

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