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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be largely excluded from work on the national rollout of high-speed broadband, it has been claimed.

The Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) believes that under the terms of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) tender document published last week, SMEs will struggle to compete for contracts.

BDUK – which was established by the coalition government last year - is in the process of awarding funding to local councils for rural broadband projects.

Between three and 12 private sector suppliers are being sought to carry out infrastructure work across the UK, reports

"INCA is concerned that the framework will exclude smaller, innovative suppliers and doesn't match our members' ambitions for delivering a truly next generation broadband UK," a statement read.

The organisation claimed that the financial criteria for winning contracts "clearly excludes all but a handful of large players".

Several major telecoms firms – including BT and Fujitsu – have already spoken of their desire to secure large portions of BDUK's £530 million rural broadband fund, enabling them to deliver high-speed broadband in the countryside.

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