Fiber production plant

Corning announced plans to build a new fiber manufacturing facility in Gilbert, Arizona that should help meet burgeoning U.S. demand for fiber. AT&T reportedly is investing in the project, which will help it shore up its own fiber supply. The plant is expected to open in 2024.

At the same time, AT&T announced that it will deploy service in Mesa, AZ. The first customers will come online next year. The network will reach more than 100,000 homes and offer 5 Gbps data speeds.

The project will use fiber from a new Corning manufacturing facility in the Mesa area, according to an AT&T press release, which clearly alludes to the Gilbert plant.

The plant will create about 250 jobs and include optical fiber, cable and connectivity technology. Corning says that it has invested more than $500 million in fiber and cable manufacturing since 2020. This almost doubled the company’s “ability to serve the U.S. market.”

The facility will be Corning’s westernmost optical cable manufacturing site and will help the company meet growing demand in the western U.S and Canada.

“This investment is a significant step forward for our country and building world-class broadband networks that will help narrow the nation’s digital divide,” AT&T Chief Executive Officer John Stankey said in a press release about the Corning Arizona facility. “This new facility will provide additional optical cable capacity to meet the record demand the industry is seeing for fast, reliable connectivity. We are also working with Corning to create training programs to equip the next generation of technicians with the skills to build the networks that will expand high-speed internet access to millions of Americans.”

Earlier this year, AT&T and Corning announced a program to train workers to support the expected growth in demand for networks.

The demand for fiber and fiber-based equipment is hot. In June, the Dell’Oro Group said that equipment sales for the first quarter were 14% higher than sales for the first quarter of 2021. Leading that increase is XGS-PON, the successor technology to GPON. Dell’Oro at the time forecast sales of 800,000 XGS-PON ports during 2022, a huge increase over the 94,000 ports sold in 2020.

A good example of the growth of fiber broadband in general and XGS-PON, in particular, is Brightspeed, which says that it will base broadband fiber builds in 20 states on XGS-PON once it gets authorization to begin deployments.

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