RURAL areas of Oxfordshire could still struggle to have superfast broadband guaranteed despite a Government push to get people connected.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced in last week’s Budget that the Conservative Government, if re-elected on May 7, would deliver “ultrafast broadband of at least 100 megabits per second (mbps) to nearly all homes in the country”.

The Government’s existing policy is to roll out “superfast” broadband of 24mbps to 95 per cent of the UK by December 2017.

But it’s the final five per cent of households that is the concern, and many of them are in Oxfordshire.

The district councils of Cherwell, Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire have set aside £1.75m collectively to fund those hard-to-reach final five per cent of premises.

However, West Oxfordshire District Council last year decided to pursue its own solution, awarding a tender to local company Cotswolds Broadband to deliver broadband to 10 per cent of the predominantly rural district by December 2016.

Will Barton, the council’s business development officer, said: “These are the areas that are not commercially viable.”

Hugo Pickering, who is chief executive of Cotswolds Broadband and lives in Lyneham, said his company was finalising contract negotiations with suppliers of fibre- optic cabling and wireless infrastructure and that he expected arrangements to be signed off by mid-April.

“We will be ready to start building out the network in August or September,” he said.

He said Costwolds Broadband would act as a wholesaler between householders and internet service providers.

Paul Phillipson, a telecoms consultant who works from his home in the village of Fernham, near Faringdon, has been complaining about poor broadband service for several years and is sceptical about the Government’s new pledge to deliver ultrafast broadband across the UK.

Mr Phillipson, 52, battles with an “extremely variable” internet connection that can be as slow as 0.26 megabits per second.

He said: “For day-to-day email and web browsing it’s usable, but not for anything beyond that.”

He cannot upload video or large files.

The married father of an adult child said of broadband: “It’s an essential service, like we want water or electricity.”

Craig Bower, programme director of Better Broadband for Oxfordshire (BBFO), said parts of Fernham would be converted to superfast broadband by June 2015, and that the remainder of the village was part of a wider review BBFO was currently undertaking with BT.

BBFO, a collaboration between the Oxfordshire County Council, government department Broadband Delivery UK, and BT, has been tasked to ensure superfast broadband reaches 90 per cent of the county’s 292,000 households by December 2015 with £25m in funding.

Mr Bower said the review involved BT determining how an additional five per cent of county households could be reached.