Adtran said today that it will invest up to $5 million in its Huntsville, Alabama manufacturing facility to support domestic manufacturing of fiber broadband equipment. The move should make it easier for broadband providers receiving funding in the $42.5 billion BEAD rural broadband program to meet Buy America requirements of that program.

As Adtran CEO Tom Stanton explained on a call with reporters to announce the plans, Adtran’s domestic manufacturing has “waned and flowed” over the 30 years that the company has been active “based on global markets and where the business has been.”

Like many manufacturers, the company has moved some of its manufacturing to other countries. According to Stanton, the decision to bring that activity back to the U.S. was directly driven by the BEAD program, he said.

The move is expected to create jobs for about 300 people.

When the U.S. made the decision to establish the BEAD program, “we knew the demand for fiber optic cable and advanced electrics would also grow,” said NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson on Adtran’s call with reporters. NTIA is the federal agency responsible for the BEAD program.

In the past, Davidson said, the jobs created because of the increased demand might have been outsourced. The Buy America requirements of the BEAD program were aimed at preventing that from happening, he said.

“If it can be made in America, it should be made in America,” said Davidson.

Also on hand for the call with reporters was Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to President Biden and White House infrastructure coordinator. According to Landrieu, the kinds of jobs that Adtran will be creating are the kind that “can support a family and lead to generational wealth.”

Adtran’s news comes less than two weeks after Nokia also made a Buy America announcement. The company said it would use U.S. facilities operated by Sanmina to manufacture several fiber broadband products.  

When Telecompetitor asked Davidson if we should expect more announcements along these lines, he said “We have nothing to announce here today” but added that “we continue to speak with industry” about what they can do to help meet Buy America goals.

Several manufacturers of fiber cabling also have announced initiatives aimed at enabling their products to meet Buy America requirements. Among these are Corning, Commscope and Prysmian.

In a press release, Adtran noted that it partners with local area high schools on an apprenticeship program and has a co-op program for college students.

“The diversity of Adtran’s workforce reflects the diversity of Alabama,” the press release said. “People of color make up over 40% of Adtran’s manufacturing team and one-third identify as African American.”

Adtran also noted that 57% of manufacturing employees are women, compare with a manufacturing industry average of 30%.

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