The Department for Culture Media and Sport has selected BT Wholesale and Fujitsu for its ‘national framework for superfast broadband,’ making them the only two firms authorised to bid for government-funded broadband schemes.
That includes the joint broadband project for Wiltshire, South Gloucestershire and Swindon which are among the first five projects in the country now able to invite tenders from the two communications companies.
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott said: “I’m delighted by this development. This project is vital to our economy.
“Having high speed internet connectivity will be critical to the success of businesses already based in the county, but will also be a huge attraction to those looking to move in.
“We now look forward to the businesses submitting their tenders to provide this much needed service in Wiltshire.”
Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and culture, said: “This is great news for Swindon and builds on the exciting high-speed internet projects that are currently under way in the borough.
“It is another significant step towards improving superfast broadband access in our rural communities and will be a big boost to people living in those areas and to local businesses.”
Chairman of South Gloucestershire Council’s resources sub-committee John Goddard said: “High speed internet connections are vital for South Gloucestershire’s economic future, promoting business growth and encouraging inward investment.
“As a council we are firmly committed to the modern telecommunications infrastructure that our businesses need and we were delighted to have joined Swindon and Wiltshire in one of the country’s most advanced broadband development projects.
“Our research shows that there is a strong business case for investment in South Gloucestershire’s broadband infrastructure and we now look forward to telecoms providers submitting their tenders to deliver this service.”
Invitations to tender have been sent to both companies for the right to become the three councils’ private partner and build the region’s new superfast infrastructure.
£16M is being invested by Wiltshire Council into the Wiltshire Online Programme along with £4.6m of money from the Government.
Wiltshire is leading the regional procurement that includes South Gloucestershire and Swindon councils, with a total capital investment of £23M.
The award of contract is anticipated in October of this year and will require the UK government being awarded State Aid by the European Commission in advance of this decision.