The number of fibre-optic broadband internet subscriptions in Japan reached 7 million in the third quarter, according to figures from Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC).

The stats also show that the fibre-optic service, which is low cost and offered throughout Japan by several competing carriers, continues to drive the expansion in the country's broadband Internet market.

On the last day of September, 7.2 million of the country's 25 million broadband subscribers were using fibre-optic connections, said the MIC.

A typical fibre service is that offered by fixed-line carrier NTT East, which charges ¥5,200 (£22) for the basic connection on which an ISP (Internet service provider) fee of around ¥1,000 (£4) is generally charged.

Fibre optic connections, which are typically 100Mbps (bits per second) 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 ADSL (asynchronous digital subscriber line) in favour of fibre.

The rise means that fibre-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 only available in limited areas and had 10,954 subscribers.