The framework will last up to four years and is estimated to be worth anywhere between £750m and £2bn.
"Broadband Delivery UK [the body armed with allocating funding for rural broadband projects] is seeking to establish a framework agreement comprising suitably qualified suppliers capable of delivering local broadband projects as required by local bodies or groups of local bodies in regions throughout the UK," the tender said.
The government pledged £530m last November to ensure that 90 per cent of households in each local authority could access super-fast broadband as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review.
The first wave of the government's funding was agreed in October 2010 for four UK-based pilot projects – in North Yorkshire, Herefordshire, Cumbria and the Highlands – to establish a model for broadband provision in rural areas. Each project was allocated between £5m and £10m.
Further projects in Devon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Norfolk were unveiled in May 2011.
Suppliers appointed to the framework agreement will need to be able to deliver the following range of broadband services:
• The design, build, implementation and operation of wholesale broadband networks. This may be at a sub-county, county, multi-county or regional level.
• Broadband solutions that are outcomes-based, rather than tied to specific technologies and platforms.
• Open access wholesale services, including those that can be made available by retail service providers (eg Internet Service Providers) as part of their retail broadband packages for business and residential customers.
• Related services, including (but not limited to) marketing services, demand stimulation and ancillary services.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport also hopes that SMEs will form part of the framework suppliers' supply chains for projects where possible.