Govt launches super-fast broadband tender
The government has launched a tender to find up to 12 internet service providers capable of fulfilling its broadband rollout plans.
According to the document, published by the European Union's Tenders Electronic Daily, the work will involve the design, building, implementation and ongoing operation of wholesale broadband networks.
It is estimated by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that projects carried out as part of the framework will cost between £750 million and £2 billion, with this money set to be raised by a mix of public funding and private investment.
Each individual programme could involve up to 500,000 properties and will be at either a sub-county, county, multi-county or regional level.
Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), the body tasked with achieving the government's rollout targets, said the framework has been designed to give small and medium-sized businesses the greatest possible chance of forming part of the supply chain.
A two-year initial term has been applied to the agreement, although there is an option for this time span to be increased by a further two years if necessary.
The tender reads: "The framework agreement is expected to be the procurement vehicle for the majority of local broadband projects once they have been allocated BDUK funding. There may be a small number of local broadband projects that do not use the framework agreement and this will be agreed with BDUK."
Last October, BDUK named Cumbria, Herefordshire, North Yorkshire and Scotland's Highlands and Islands as the first locations in the country to be chosen for super-fast broadband trial sites.
Since then, three further bidders - Norfolk, Wiltshire and a joint application from Devon and Somerset - have been confirmed as receiving government funding to boost local broadband speeds.
This forms part of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition's goal of delivering the best super-fast broadband network in Europe by 2015.