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New £900m Getting Building Fund Brings Broadband Boost to England UPDATE

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020 (9:15 am) - Score 2,558
fibre optic broadband and ethernet network cable

The UK government’s new £900m Getting Building Fund (GBF), which seeks to help create new jobs, skills and infrastructure across England in order to aid the recovery from COVID-19, has announced its allocations to various regions. A few of the projects also include funding for new gigabit broadband and “full fibre” networks.

This investment is being targeted in areas facing the biggest economic challenges as a result of the pandemic. It is supporting the delivery of shovel-ready infrastructure projects, agreed with mayors and Local Enterprise Partnerships to boost economic growth, and fuel local recovery and jobs,” said the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government yesterday.

The good news is that some of the newly announced projects today will also be putting further investment toward better broadband, although this varies from location to location (table of regional funding allocations). Luckily for our readers, we’ve taken the time to go through every single project in order to identify those that contain a broadband element.

Broadband Projects in the £900m Fund

For example, Worcestershire in the West Midlands has secured £12m and around £500,000 of that will be used to help bring a “full fibre” network to Worcester city centre (i.e. building a new datacentre site to support Cityfibre’s planned £25m-£35m investment in the roll-out of 1Gbps FTTP broadband to local premises – here).

Similarly the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) secured £32.1m, which will see some of that go toward helping to “extend full fibre infrastructure to [the] remaining premises” in Suffolk and another bit (£2m) being used to extend “ultra-fast broadband” into 80 additional public buildings through the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) programme in Norfolk. Lowestoft and Felixstowe may also see an expansion of free WiFi.

The South East LEP will also use some of the money to extend superfast broadband (most likely using FTTP) into rural south Essex, which could create 18,333 extra premises. Some of this will also go toward boosting “full fibre” in parts of Kent and Medway to support businesses, while another bit will help 130 additional sites in the care sector to gain similar connectivity.

The Buckinghamshire LEP scheme also secured £7.7m and a little bit of that will help the rural superfast broadband programme to reach another 270 premises. Similarly, the Enterprise M3 LEP won £13.3m and some of that will help Hampshire and Surrey to deploy gigabit-capable fibre “along an initial route between Guildford and Basingstok.”

Meanwhile the Oxfordshire LEP scooped £8.4m and a little bit of that will help to create an additional 400 superfast broadband connections via a “Gigabit Voucher Scheme for building gigabit capable residential broadband infrastructure in predominantly rural areas.”

Likewise, the Solent LEP (won £15.9m) talks about creating 23,050 new superfast broadband connections but gives no detail. The same can be said of the Thames Valley Berkshire LEP (won £7.5m), which only mentions creating 1,620 new superfast broadband connections.

The Heart of the South West project was allocated £35.4m, but again only a little of that will go toward creating 65 new superfast broadband connections, while the Swindon and Wiltshire LEP (£9.7m) merely mentions 3 new superfast broadband connections. It’s a similar story for the West of England Combined Authority (£13.7m), which mentions creating 27 superfast connections, albeit as part of a research and testing project.

The Hertfordshire LEP (£16.8m) project also makes a small mention of broadband, but nothing too specific, while the Greater Manchester (£54.2m) scheme talks about creating 1,024 extra superfast broadband connections, but adds no detail. The Coventry and Warwickshire LEP (£8.1m) also mentions 136 new superfast broadband connections and this drops to just 8 for the £66m West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) project.

Finally, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority secured one of the biggest blocks of funding (£52.6m), but only mentions creating 145 new superfast broadband connections, although on top of that the related Wakefield Business Gigabit Voucher Scheme will also be getting a boost (around 20 business locations and communities may benefit from that).

As you can see above, broadband connectivity will play a much bigger role in some of the projects than others. In many areas it doesn’t even get a mention and only a few seem to be putting a larger chunk of their funding toward something more substantial. Still it’s always worth mentioning when there’s another funding boost for broadband connectivity.

UPDATE 14th August 2020

We’ve noticed that the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership will put £3.2m of its award toward faster fibre broadband and 5G mobile in the Mid Sussex area via the Digital Sussex – Rural Connectivity Programme (RCP).

Details of allocations by area

East Midlands

East of England

London

North East

North West

South East

South West

West Midlands

Yorkshire Humber Region

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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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