NTIA has tried hard to generate excitement about Buy America requirements for the $42.5 billion BEAD rural broadband funding program, even enlisting U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris in the process.
It appears the efforts are paying off. While some industry stakeholders initially thought it would be difficult to meet Buy America requirements, more and more suppliers are revealing that they can do that.
These include companies like Nokia and Adtran, both of whom were involved in high-profile announcements that they would build key fiber broadband equipment in the U.S., as well as other companies with lower Buy America profiles, but who, nevertheless, are expected to be able to meet Buy America requirements.
One of the companies in the latter group is Calix. Like Nokia and Adtran, Calix offers fiber broadband equipment, and according to a blog post on the Calix website, the company is “working with our supply chain partners to ensure we have the appropriate products manufactured in the U.S.”
Among these products are optical line termination (OLT) cards and modules, as well as optical network terminals (ONTs), the blog post notes.
Another supplier with a lower Buy America profile but that should be able to meet Buy America requirements is DZS, the broadband equipment provider that was formed by combining two companies — Dasan Networks and Zhone.
As DZS Senior Vice President of Marketing Geoff Burke explained in an interview with Telecompetitor at the Fiber Connect conference in Orlando last month, the company never moved certain fiber broadband manufacturing operations offshore. Instead, products were built in Seminole, Florida.
In the future, those operations will be moved to a facility operated by Fabrinet in Santa Clara, California, Burke said. DZS is producing OLTs and transport equipment out of Fabrinet today.
The fiber broadband equipment suppliers join a burgeoning group of fiber cabling suppliers that already meet or have announced that they will be able to meet Buy America requirements. These companies include Prysmian, Corning, Commscope and Superior Essex.
It’s important to note that NTIA expects to issue a limited waiver of certain Buy America requirements. Nevertheless, it would be surprising not to see a groundswell of suppliers building products in the U.S., considering that anyone that doesn’t could be locked out of BEAD and other funding programs.
Updated to correct Dasani name and to state that DZS is producing OLTs and transport equipment out of Fabrinet today