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The government has awarded contracts to five firms ahead of the Broadband For All home access scheme set to be piloted next month.

Last year prime minister Gordon Brown pledged £300 million to ensure home broadband access for all school children.

Trials are due to take place in Suffolk and Oldham in February with 20,000 disadvantaged families set to benefit.

XMA, Centerprise International, Positive IT Solutions, RM Education and Stone Computers have been selected to supply computer equipment and software for the initiative.

Families will be given special grants of up to £700 to get their households online with high-speed internet.

"We need to ensure that every child has an equal chance to tap into the benefits of the internet to support their learning at home," said chief executive of the government's technology learning body Becta, Steven Crowne.

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