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Broadband providers are being invited to tender for a £27m contract to provide high speed net access to the south of Scotland.

The public sector-funded project - with a majority of the cash coming from the Scottish Executive - is looking to wire-up schools, libraries and council offices with broadband services of at least 8 meg.

For although parts of the area already have broadband, officials want greater speeds introduced.

The South of Scotland Broadband Pathfinder Project is being backed by Dumfries and Galloway Council, and Scottish Borders Council. Details of the contract have been published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Officials expect to award the contract to the successful bidder by the middle of 2006 with the broadband network up and running in targeted locations two years later.

In a joint statement the project organisers said: "Ensuring that local public services have access to the latest broadband technology is a vital step in modernising local government.

"It will provide a tremendous boost to modern learning and teaching practice and to the provision of services to the public." ®

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