The number of fiber-optic broadband Internet subscriptions in Japan reached 7 million in the third quarter, according to data released Wednesday.The figures from Japan\u2019s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) also show that the fiber-optic service, which is low cost and offered throughout Japan by several competing carriers, continues to drive the expansion in the country\u2019s broadband Internet market.On the last day of September, 7.2 million of the country\u2019s 25 million broadband subscribers were using fiber-optic connections, said the MIC. The ministry releases nationwide broadband figures once every three months.A typical fiber service is that offered by fixed-line carrier NTT East, which charges 5,200 yen (US$44) for the basic connection on which an ISP fee of about 1,000 yen is generally charged. Competition is fierce among carriers and ISPs, and promotions often mean installation of the service within\u00a0two weeks of ordering and the first several months at no charge.Fiber-optic connections, which are typically 100Mbps dedicated or shared between a small number of households, saw a net gain of 848,953 subscriptions and grew by 80 percent on the same period a year earlier. That gain outweighed the growth in total broadband subscriptions for the quarter, 824,131, with some users abandoning asynchronous DSL (ADSL) in favor of fiber.The rise means that fiber-optic connections are now equivalent to about half the total ADSL market. ADSL, which is available at speeds up to 47Mbps, remains the most popular broadband Internet connection despite a slight fall in subscribers during the quarter.Cable Internet subscriptions came in third place at 3.5 million, and last was fixed wireless access, which is available only in limited areas and had 10,954 subscribers.-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.