Fiber beat cable for global subscriber additions in Q1

Thu, 07/03/2008 - 8:15am
Traci Patterson

In the first quarter of 2008, fiber optic broadband racked up more subscribers than cable for the first time ever, according to the latest data from Point Topic.

There were 2.5 million cable broadband subscriber additions in the first quarter, but fiber subscribers grew by 4.2 million in the same period.

“It’s a significant milestone for fiber optic broadband,” said Oliver Johnson, Point Topic’s CEO. “Where it is available, consumers will take fiber over other broadband technologies.”

And a significant factor in subscribers choosing fiber over cable is price, Point Topic found.

“If you look at the cost per megabit, then DSL comes in at around $20 per megabit, per month, taking global averages,” Johnson said. “Cable does better at roughly $12, but they are both completely eclipsed by fiber, where costs can get as low as 50 cents per megabit, per month.”

There are variations, the company said, but DSL can cost consumers more than 15 times as much as fiber to get a megabit of bandwidth, and cable is seven times as expensive given the current tariffs.

The growth in fiber numbers is being driven by China, Japan and South Korea, where cable and DSL are losing subscribers to the fiber technologies. In the U.S., the U.K., France and Germany, low availability means low adoption.

“There are problems in the de-regulated markets when it comes to major infrastructure investment,” Johnson said. “Fiber deployment is expensive, and in the U.S. and Europe, there are significant regulatory hurdles to overcome.”

On a side note, China continues to creep up on the U.S. for the total number of broadband subscribers. In the fourth quarter of 2007, China had nearly 66.6 million subscribers, and the U.S. had 73.2 million – a difference of 6.6 million. But in the first quarter of this year, China had 71 million subscribers, and the U.S. had 75.7 million – a difference of only 4.7 million.

Top Ten Broadband Countries – Q1 2008

Total Broadband Subscribers


Q4 2007

Q1 2008


73.2 million

75.7 million


66.6 million

71 million


28.4 million

28.8 million


20 million

21.2 million


15.7 million

16.3 million


15.6 million

16.2 million

South Korea

14.7 million

14.9 million


10.9 million

11.2 million


8.7 million

8.9 million


8 million

8.3 million

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• Cox hires Meeks, Richter 

• RCN adds more HD channels to New York City market 

• Fiber beat cable for global subscriber additions in Q1 

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• Broadband Briefs for 7/03/08 



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