The UK is still absent from the list of the top European countries offering optical fibre links to homes
But France, Portugal, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria have made it, according to the latest figures from the European division of the Fibre to the Home (FTTH) Council, an industry support group.
Lithuania leapfrogged Sweden, Norway and Slovenia to the number one slot with 18% FTTH penetration, the council said. All four countries now have penetration rates greater than 10%.
France and Portugal broke into the ranking for the first time, helped by strong deployment of fibre infrastructure as well as marketing efforts to engage subscribers. The council said it expected FTTH uptake in both countries to continue to grow rapidly as both were in the top 10 economies in terms of the availability of FTTH.
Europe had a total of 2.5 million subscribers or 3.5 million including Russia. Most (77%) were in seven countries: Sweden, Italy, France, Lithuania, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark.
FTTH Council Europe president Karel Helsen said the data confirmed council forecasts of steady growth in the number of fibre to the home subscribers, in spite of the economic downturn.
He noted that France was the second European G20 country after Italy to the list. "It is up to Germany and the UK to increase their efforts to follow as soon as possible," he said.
However, Virgin Media has said it intends this year to deliver a commercial service using cable TV technology to deliver 100Mbps, fibre-like broadband access. BT has said it will provide fibre to the cabinet, passing about half of UK homes.
Other network operators, such as Cable & Wireless, Colt, H20, Vtesse and Geo also provide fibre conections, mainly to businesses, using both their own fibre and fibre rented from BT. Mobile virtual network operator Talk Talk said it might build its own fibre network because of congestion in the existing core networks.
The FTTH European and Global rankings includes both fibre to the home, where the fibre connection reaches direct to the household, and fibre to the building (FTTB), where fibre terminates inside the boundary of a multi-tenant building.