Statistics compiled by British research concern Point Topic show that, during the first quarter of 2008, new subscriptions to fiber optic broadband services outpaced those of cable providers for the first time. Released late last week, the Point Topic study tallies 4.2 million new fiber broadband customers worldwide during the first three months of 2008 as compared to 2.5 million new subscriptions to cable modem services. China, the second largest broadband market in the world, added the lion’s share of new fiber subscriptions at 2.5 million and was followed by Japan, South Korea and the U.S., which counted 303,000 new fiber subscribers. Terming these statistics as “significant,” Point Topic CEO Oliver Johnson said the report demonstrates that, “where [fiber] is available, consumers will take fiber over other broadband technologies.” Johnson added that the per-megabit cost of fiber in comparison to cable and DSL appears to be driving the growth of fiber broadband services as “DSL can cost the consumer more than 15 times as much as fiber . . . and cable is seven times as expensive.” Although Verizon Communications’ FiOS service dominates the U.S. fiber broadband sector with 1.8 million customers, Johnson noted that fiber deployment in the U.S. and in Europe is slow in relation to other global markets. Citing the expense of fiber deployment and the presence of “significant regulatory hurdles” in the U.S. and Europe, Johnson explained: “it is difficult to persuade operators to make the sort of commitment needed when they can’t guarantee their returns.”