While much of the UK struggles with broadband speeds in single digits, Japan's national telco has just seen users of its 100 Mbit/s fibre-optic internet service become a majority as the slower ADSL is increasingly being left behind.

NTT , the former state telecoms provider, which is now split into NTT East and NTT West, has reported that its ADSL subscribers fell for the first time in the last financial year to 5.32 million. This coincided with a heavy marketing push that drove fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections to 6.08 million by the end of March.

Fast and faster

The initial success of FTTH has little to do with technical benefits - after all, Japan's ISPs all offer ADSL at over 50 Mbit/s. Instead, it is predicated on expensive advertising and a desire to win back customers from agile young companies such as Softbank , which operates Yahoo BB in Japan, to push future services.

Costs for either variety of internet service are low at around ¥3,000 (£12.80) a month, meaning non-price competition is likely to win the day. NTT's FTTH offerings are seen by industry observers as offering the stability and enough extra speed for delivering high-end services, including video on demand (VOD).

Although not yet a strong selling point, VOD is guaranteed to change the internet provider landscape over the next few months, as more consumers become aware of the flexibility of choosing what to watch whenever they feel like it.