The latest ranking of countries with the most widespread rollout of fibre-optic cabling to the home shows the UK without enough coverage to even make the league table.
The annual fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) conference in Copenhagen highlighted fears for the UK's global economic competitiveness after the statistics showed the UK still not among the group of economies where FTTH penetration has reached one per cent.
The FTTH ranking is issued twice a year and tracks the level of market penetration in economies where households are connected directly to high-speed optical-fibre networks. FTTH is considered one of the most important means of delivering next-generation broadband networks to homes and businesses.
Countries are only registered if more than one per cent of households are connected through FTTH. Currently, 20 economies meet this threshold, up nearly a third from July 2008 and nearly a half since July 2007. But the UK has never registered on the list of countries meeting the requirement.
Asian countries lead the FTTH market, with South Korea topping the charts at 44 per cent connectivity. Japan has 13.2 million FTTH connected residences, with the US and China next. The nearest European countries are Scandinavian, with Sweden closely followed by Norway. The last of the 20 is Latvia.
Communications minister Lord Carter's interim Digital Britain report, published last month, encouraged the rollout of high-speed broadband in the UK, but gave no commitments on public-sector investment to support UK optical fibre network infrastructure. The final version of the report is due for publication in April.