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Fixed wireless provider Airband is poised to form part of a consortium to bid for an open market contract to bring superfast broadband to 90% of homes and business across Devon and Somerset by 2016.

The Connecting Devon and Somerset project, which is working alongside BT in order to supply superfast broadband, had initially hoped for a further £35 million of funding that would have been put towards a contract extension.

That move would have seen coverage potentially increase to 95% by the 2017/18 period, but the plan hit difficulties at the end of last week when it emerged the project had been unable to reach a deal with BT.

Reports suggested BT was unlikely to meet the targets set out by the project, adding it could also take as long as 15 years to make a return on its investment.

Airband now looks set to take on the mantle, with the BBC suggesting the Worcester-based firm is confident of achieving the 95% coverage target by joining its fixed wireless network with another provider.

The move comes just a day after the company won a separate open market contract to deploy superfast broadband to 5,800 premises across the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks, and could create competition in bidding for the government's Broadband Delivery UK programme.

The deal in Dartmoor and Exmoor carries the advantage of eliminating the need to dig up local roads in order to lay down new cables, making it both quicker and easier to implement.

The rollout of the new service will be driven by public sector investment of £4.6 million and, when set up, will utilise various masts across the local area.

Andrew Leadbetter, Devon Cabinet Member for Economy and Growth, said: “We are delighted that Airband has been chosen to roll out superfast broadband across the Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks. They were selected for their innovative approach to delivering broadband in remote areas."

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