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Innovative pilot schemes to improve superfast broadband access across the UK could make the sector more competitive in the future.

According to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), a series of pioneering initiatives are taking place all over Britain to boost connectivity in hard-to-reach areas.

These, it said, have demonstrated that smaller suppliers can compete against "industry giants" such as BT Openreach and Virgin Media.

As a result, smaller suppliers are becoming more confident bidding for contracts to work on the government's superfast broadband rollout, which remains on course to extend coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by 2017.

This greater profile might in turn encourage customers to eschew major players in the broadband sector in favour of alternative providers.

The DCMS said the pilots have been running for more than a year in sparsely populated rural areas, with alternative technologies and commercial and operational models being deployed to offer reliable superfast broadband to people in remote communities.

These include Call Flow and Cybermoor's use of both fibre and fixed wireless technologies, and Avanti and Satellite Internet's scheme involving a superfast-capable satellite.

Ed Vaizey, the Digital Economy Minister, commented: "The government’s rollout of superfast broadband is the fastest of its kind anywhere in the world and is a truly massive engineering project. 

"Our pilot scheme has demonstrated that alternative technologies can help us take superfast speeds to the hardest to reach areas of the UK."

Malcolm Corbett of the Independent Networks Cooperative Association added: "We are really pleased that these pilots have given an opportunity for smaller suppliers to showcase what they are capable of."

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