BT has kept its iron grip on government-funded regional fibre broadband deals with the announcement of two further projects in the south-west. BT has so far won all the contracts signed around the country.
The largest south-west deal signed this week is the £94 million project to increase broadband speeds for businesses and residents across Devon and Somerset over the next four years.
The Connecting Devon and Somerset consortium has agreed a deal with BT which aims to deliver high-speed fibre broadband to around 90 percent of premises by the end of 2016, and to ensure a minimum 2mbps broadband speed for all.
Surveying work on the project will start immediately and the first locations to be upgraded will be announced during this spring.
BT's £41 million financial contribution will bolster the public sector investment, which includes £10 million each from Devon and Somerset county councils, £32 million government funding from Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and contributions from other public sector partners.
Average broadband speeds in the region are currently around 9mbps in Devon and around 8mbps in Somerset, whilst around 14 percent of premises across the two counties receive less than 2mbps, BT said.
Most of the programme area will use fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology, where the fibre runs from the telephone exchange as far as the nearest BT street cabinet. This technology can deliver download speeds of up to 80mbps and upload speeds of up to 20mbps.
Fibre to the premises (FTTP), where the fibre runs all the way to the home or business and which can deliver a top current download speed of 330mbps, will also be available to buy in certain areas, at a premium.
BT Openreach will install the fibre network which will be open to all communications providers on an equal wholesale basis, said BT.
Communications minister Ed Vaizey said: "It's projects like Connecting Devon and Somerset, the largest of all the English local authority projects, that will help achieve the government's aim for the UK to have the best broadband in Europe by 2015."
A similar but smaller deal has seen BT take the helm in a £35.6 million project to deliver broadband in Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire.
Wiltshire Council, in partnership with South Gloucestershire Council, has agreed the project with BT, with new fibre broadband connections expected to be live from spring 2014.
Some £4.6 million of the funds for this project will come from BDUK, £15.5 million from Wiltshire Council, £2 million from South Gloucestershire Council, £12.8 million from BT and £750,000 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).