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Fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) coverage in the UK is well behind most other European countries, a new study has revealed.

According to research by IHS Markit, FTTP coverage in Britain is just 1.8 per cent.

Only two countries had lower scores, with Greece having a coverage rate of 0.6 per cent, while the figure for Belgium was just 0.4 per cent.

IHS Markit has attributed the low figure in the UK partly to infrastructure body Openreach's focus on upgrading its legacy copper-based network.

This, it said, led to a "limited expansion of FTTP networks in the UK".

Alzbeta Fellenbaum, principal analyst at IHS Markit, said: "This reflects the preference of operators in these countries to prioritise their deployment strategies on upgrading existing VDSL networks, rather than investing in the typically more expensive FTTP technology."

However, the situation in the UK could be set to change, with both the government and Openreach expressing interest in pursuing a large-scale fibre deployment in the future.

The government recently launched six pilots of full-fibre networks capable of offering broadband speeds of 1Gbps, with about £10 million being spent on boosting connectivity in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

This marked the first phase in a £200 million programme announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond in the Spring Budget.

Ministers believe full-fibre networks offer an "incredibly reliable connection", as well as make internet access more secure and enable more people to work remotely without disruption.

Meanwhile, Openreach is consulting with communications providers to identify the level of demand for a major full-fibre deployment and devise new investment, risk and cost-sharing models.

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