CommScope, Corning Raise Fiber Cable Production in North Carolina

Fiber giants' move will help address broadband demands in rural and urban areas. 

  • CommScope

CommScope and Corning are moving to expand their respective fiber optical cable production in North Carolina to accelerate broadband expansion in more communities and underserved areas.

These announcements were made this week during an event with the Honorable Secretary Gina Raimondo, U.S. Department of Commerce, Assistant Secretary Alan Davidson, U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Honorable Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina.

For both companies, the move is all about expansion to meet current and future needs.

By expanding its fiber cable output, CommScope’s HeliARC lines are expected to support 500,000 homes per year in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments.

CommScope’s move will also boost local employment by adding at least 250 jobs over the next five years, 90 percent of which will not require a college degree. It will also bolster supply chain production in the United States to support the White House’s initiative to have the supply chain for America begin in America.
Additionally, CommScope will introduce its new HeliARC fiber cable, specifically designed for rural deployments. It will also invest $47 million CapEx in the U.S. toward expanding fiber optic cable production focused on rural applications. 

During the event, CommScope showcased its current facilities in Catawba and Claremont.

“We are in the business of connectivity. We strive to provide superior solutions to our customers, who, in turn, provide connectivity for businesses, individuals, and communities. This increase in fiber-optic cable production is a great step forward for our ‘Broadband for Everyone’ program, furthering our commitment to serving the fiber optic cable market,” stated Chuck Treadway, President and CEO of CommScope. “We will produce more cost-effective and easier-to-deploy fiber-optic cable, add new jobs and simultaneously strengthen the supply chain in America.”

Currently, CommScope has two fiber-optic cable production facilities in North Carolina, one in Catawba and the other in Claremont. The increase in production in part results from an expansion of manufacturing at these facilities, where they will add lines of output for the HeliARC cable line. This expansion in manufacturing increases American supply chain production resulting in more “Made in America” products.

Corning Enhances Rural Scale

Like CommScope, Corning has opened an optical cable manufacturing campus in Hickory, North Carolina. This new facility will help Corning accelerate U.S. buildouts of fiber broadband networks and connect the unconnected.

With the campus’s two new facilities, Corning will help provide U.S. network operators with the cable they need to bring high-speed fiber connectivity to underserved communities, particularly in rural America. These advanced manufacturing facilities will add hundreds of jobs to Corning’s existing North Carolina workforce of more than 5,000. The new campus is part of a series of investments by Corning totaling more than $500 million since 2020, helping to meet growing fiber and cable demand and firm customer commitments.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo, whose agency is spearheading the national “Internet for All” initiative, joined the facilities’ opening ceremonies along with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Stephen Milner, CEO of Planters Broadband Cooperative, on behalf of NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association.

"It is past time that every American be connected with affordable internet no matter where they live," said Secretary Raimondo. "We could not do it without the folks at Corning. We wouldn’t have the fiber, the innovation, the cable. We wouldn’t be able to connect rural America – all of America."

Public and private investments continue to drive a large, multi-year wave of growth for fiber-based networks. As the inventor of optical fiber, Corning is uniquely positioned to support these network buildouts.

“With this new manufacturing campus, we’re creating local jobs, we’re helping our workforce build important skills, we’re cultivating our next generation of talent right here in North Carolina, and we’re thrilled to continue addressing the demand for the fiber and cable that are so vital to moving the world forward,” said Corning Chairman and CEO Wendell P. Weeks. “We appreciate the support of the federal, state, local officials, and industry organizations as we come together to help connect the unconnected and to make ‘Internet for All’ a reality.”

Corning recently launched a strategic supply collaboration with NTCA to support rural network buildouts, providing NTCA members with a specially reserved supply of cable and connectivity solutions.

Corning has manufactured optical fiber and cable in North Carolina for over 40 years. With the opening of the Trivium campus, Corning will manufacture optical cables at two sites in Hickory and areas in Newton and Winston-Salem. The company manufactures optical fiber in Concord and Wilmington. Charlotte is home to Corning’s Optical Communications headquarters.

Fiber Passings Set to Rise

CommScope and Corning’s announcements come as analysts forecast a spike in fiber passings during the next decade in the United States. According to RVA’s recently released 2023-2024 North American Fiber Broadband Report: FTTH and 5G Review And Forecast, there will be over 100 million more fiber passings. The count is in addition to the estimated 68 million homes that have already passed with FTTH in the US alone (63 million unique homes, excluding homes that passed twice or more).

The research firm said the predicted additional passings will include reaching a high percentage of primary homes, homes being passed by two or more fiber providers in specific demographics, and second homes/short-term rental homes. Many service providers will deploy fiber broadband – telcos, cable MSOs, competitive providers, municipalities and rural electric cooperatives. 

Canada and the Caribbean are also expected to have continued strong fiber deployment growth. 

For the coming five-year forecast period (2023 – 2027), RVA LLC estimates U.S. capital investment in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) will surpass $135 billion, barring significant unforeseen economic or geopolitical disruption. The $135 billion 5-year forecast will exceed ALL investment in FTTH that has occurred to date. Despite the reductions some providers have announced from the original projections for 2023, RVA forecasts a record annual FTTH build. Based on private and rates of investment, RVA expects annual construction rates to continue to increase over the period.


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