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Today NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson called out Ciena as another company that has met Build America, Buy America (BABA) requirements critical to the $42.5 billion BEAD rural broadband funding program.

“The Internet for All initiative is not just a connectivity program, it’s a jobs and manufacturing program—for the people who will build new broadband networks and for the people who are making the equipment these networks need,” said Davidson in a prepared statement. “NTIA thanks Ciena for joining the growing set of companies stepping up and answering [the] call to bring manufacturing jobs home.”

Broadband providers that win funding to deploy broadband in unserved and underserved rural areas are required to rely largely on U.S.-based vendors for the equipment underlying those networks. This primarily involves fiber broadband materials and equipment because BEAD rules require providers to deploy fiber broadband except for the highest-cost builds, in which case the providers can use other technologies.

Initially some stakeholders said it would be difficult to meet Buy America goals for BEAD, as material and equipment manufacturing largely was occurring in other countries. Instead, multiple vendors have stepped up to build optical line terminals (OLTs) and fiber cabling in the U.S.

Ciena plans to begin production of OLTs and optical network units (ONUs) at U.S. manufacturing facilities operated by global manufacturer Flex in mid-2024. In a press release, Ciena noted that it has had a “20-year global relationship” with Flex.

According to Ciena, its U.S.-manufactured OLTs use a pluggable design that increases network sustainability and connects more homes at higher speeds per unit of power compared to some other offerings. The company also plans to develop pluggable 25GS-PON OLTs and ONUs in the U.S. Those products will be designed to enable providers to easily upgrade from earlier-generation PON equipment.

Other companies that have received Buy America authorization for OLTs include Nokia, Adtran, and Calix.

Companies whose fiber cabling meets Buy America requirements include Prysmian, Corning, Commscope, and Superior Essex.

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