UK fibre broadband the worst in Europe?

Fibre optic leaders Russia and Lithuania are light-years ahead of Britain and in European rankings the UK doesn't even make the Top 20 countries.

The UK's fibre optic broadband is seriously lagging behind that of other European countries, according to new research by the FTTH Council Europe.

It ranked countries in terms of their progress on fibre-to-the-home (FTTH), where fibre optic cable connects properties directly with no copper telephone wire anywhere along the journey from provider to customer.

It allows speeds much faster than the current standard of fibre optic in Britain.

Lithuania emerged as a clear leader, with 100% coverage of FTTH broadband and over 31% of homes connected to it. In second place was Sweden with 22.6% and Bulgaria, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Denmark and Portugal complete the Top 10.

The UK didn't even reach the Top 20 countries, with less than 0.1% of British homes connected with FTTH broadband.

Karin Ahl, president of the FTTH Council Europe, said: "Eastern Europe and Scandinavian countries have reinforced their position as fibre leaders and the disparity between the early and later adopters is becoming ever more apparent.

"These FTTH leaders are gaining an economic advantage over their less well-connected neighbours. Countries that delay the roll-out of FTTH are looking at a serious lost opportunity to prepare for their economic future."

Most fibre optic broadband in the UK uses a fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) method of deployment. This is where homes are connected to a street cabinet with old-fashioned copper telephone wire, which is known to dramatically affect broadband speeds.

As part of government plans to give Britain the "best broadband in Europe" a nationwide roll-out of FTTC broadband is currently underway. Fibre broadband services such as BT Infinity should be available to 90% of UK homes by 2015.

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