The Cardiff Capital Region (CCR) Cabinet has welcomed the decision to approve £6m of funding to enable improved digital connectivity in South-East Wales.
In his 2018 Spring Statement Chancellor Philip Hammond confirmed the first £95m allocation from the government’s £190m Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) challenge fund, which was set up to stimulate commercial investment in “gigabit capable” broadband (rural and urban).
The same fund has already been used to fuel a £10m pilot scheme of 1Gbps-capable “full fibre” (FTTP/H) broadband connectivity across six areas of the United Kingdom: Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester.
The initial pilots reflected a variety of different approaches, such as connection vouchers for businesses, aggregated demand schemes, and opening access to existing public-sector infrastructure etc.
At the time, the government said that its wider aim was to spread such connections to “key public buildings and businesses, with the expectation that this leads to broadband providers creating additional connections to local homes and businesses.”
Since then the government has been busy encouraging a broad range of local bodies (councils, LEPs etc.) – as well as health, education or transport bodies – to apply for the fund.
This programme comes as part of the government’s expanded £31 billion National Productivity Investment Fund.
Today the Spring Statement 2018 allocated its first wave of funding for the Local Full Fibre Network (LFFN) scheme, providing over £95 million for 13 areas across the UK, including £6m to the Cardiff Capital Region.
Councillor Anthony Hunt, Leader of Torfaen County Borough Council, and the CCR Cabinet’s portfolio leader on the digital strategy said: “The CCR has an aspiration to extend the “arc of innovation” that runs along the M4 corridor into the CCR, and a central theme within the CCR’s ambition is to deliver an outstanding digital infrastructure and wider ecosystem to support economic growth.
“We see this bid as very much the first step on a long journey to foster a digitally connected region that will offer business a step-change in the services they are able to deliver and offer residents access to the services they deserve.
“We have a clear vision to develop an environment that will not only continue to attract industry-leading enterprise into the area but also encourage the development of SMEs that will complement and support this growth.
“Digital infrastructure is central to this vision as it will provide a platform to stimulate such growth, helping us to achieve our aspirations for and longer-term strategy into delivery.”
The successful bid will contribute to the CCR’s plans to build on current investments as well as establishing a reputation for the region as one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the UK.
In particular, it will support the CCR in six main areas: