The UK is one of the fastest-growing countries in Europe when it comes to the deployment of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) services, new figures have revealed, but as it is starting from a very low base, there is still a long way to go for the technology to become mainstream.
Figures released by the FTTH Council Europe included the UK for the first time in 2018, as the country passed the threshold of having at least one per cent of homes and businesses using this connectivity.
It revealed that penetration of FTTH services increased by 22.8 per cent in the 12 months to September 2018, making it the third-fastest growing country in Europe, behind Italy (43.1 per cent) and Poland (40.5 per cent).
However, despite this, the UK remains one of the worst performers in Europe for actual take-up of these services at present. FTTH Council Europe found just 1.3 per cent of homes and businesses take advantage of FTTH connectivity. Overall, 13.1 per cent of properties in the UK that are capable of receiving this technology subscribe to it.
Nevertheless, the report indicated that clear progress is being made. Commenting on the figures, Malcolm Corbett, chief executive of the Independent Networks Cooperative Association, praised the work of alternative network providers such as CityFibre, Hyperoptic and Gigaclear for their contribution to the UK's growth.
"We are delighted to see the UK included in the FTTH Council’s annual report," he said. "This recognition has been a long time coming and it is no coincidence that it comes after such significant progress in the independent sector, where smaller operators have grown substantially to become viable competitors to the incumbents."
FTTH Council Europe's report also forecast a bright future for the use of FTTH in the UK's broadband networks. It estimated that by 2025, some 27 million properties in the UK will be covered by full fibre services, with overall penetration reaching 71.7 per cent.
This is significantly higher than the UK government's own target of reaching 15 million premises by the end of 2025, with ISPReview.co.uk describing the FTTH Council Europe figures as "wildly optimistic".