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BT seals £425 million broadband rollout contract for Wales

Amidst muted competition, BT has won the right to roll out faster broadband to Wales, with the deal expected to seal £425 million of funding for the telecoms behemoth and cement its strangehold on the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) project, worth a reported £530 million in total.

Fujitsu, BT's sole long-term BDUK rival - withdrew from the Wales segment of the funding race at the beginning of the year. This made the British firm's acquisition of the most profitable part of the project to spread high-speed Internet across the UK essentially a matter of signing on the dotted line.

Of the £425 million total investment in Wales' infrastructure, £220 million will be injected directly by BT, with the scheme set to go ahead subject to approval by the European Commission, which is lined up to contribute around £90 million via the European Development Fund.

Yet somewhat unsurprisingly, the EC has registered concerns over the apparent absence of a competitive process involved in the bidding process. BT's acquisition of contracts in densely populated regions has largely gone unnoticed, but now it is winning the rights to projects in more remote areas where local providers may also exist, Brussels' curiosity has been aroused.

Smaller suppliers, such as Hyperoptic, have claimed that the process involved too much red tape and that more modestly-sized firms were left at a disadvantage as a result.

But broadband minister Ed Vaizey has been at pains to point out that such complaints were limited and that correct procedures were adhered to throughout.

"We have a legal obligation to ensure the procurement is undertaken in the right way...people will awlays complain about the beaurocracy."

"[I have not] had a queue of local authorities coming through mny door and telling me it [the bidding process] was complex," he added.

Earlier this week, Japanese tech giant Fujitsu pulled out of its attempt to nab the Yorkshire-based bit of BDUK, individually worth £70 million.

That decision also went to BT, which, despite its enviable position, now faces an uphill battle trying to provision a minimum 2mbps connection to all areas by 2015 in line with the government's ambitions - and in spite of potential EC interference.