BT has been named the "preferred bidder" for Devon and Somerset’s broadband investment scheme.
The Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) programme is a joint scheme to bring broandband speeds of over 2Mbps to every business and community in the counties by 2015. In May, it won £31 million in funding from the government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) unit.
If BT wins the contract, it will be the sixth BDUK-funded broadband infrastructure contract it has won to date. It is also the "preferred bidder" for similar schemes in Cumbria, Norfolk and Suffolk.
“We are pleased to have been selected as the preferred bidder for this project, which promises to extend the availability of next generation broadband across Devon & Somerset,” BT said in a statement. “We will be working closely with the Connecting Devon & Somerset programme team to complete the contract over the coming weeks”.
The scheme, initiated by Devon and Somerset county councils, aims to provide broadband services of over 2Mbps to every business and community in the counties by 2015, with 85% of those receiving access to fibre-optic broadband speeds at a minimum of 20Mbps.
CDS will require state aid clearance from the European Commission before awarding BT the contract. Public funding for broadband infrastructure, under EU state aid rules, is only eligible in areas that the private sector alone will not deliver broadband in the foreseeable future.
According to CDS, the private sector “is only likely to deliver superfast broadband to 62% of businesses and households in Devon and Somerset”.