Adtran have released a statement that it will expand manufacturing at its plant in Huntsville, Alabama, to meet demands for telecoms equipment that are rapidly growing in the domestic market. It has stated that it intends to invest up to $5 million and could create up to 300 jobs while doing it.
This, admittedly, doesn’t sound like a whole lot in the scope of the telecoms equipment market, it’s still worth noting. This is because it serves as a key indication of the current Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) programme, an actively key tenet causing the manufacture of kit in the US right now.
US President Joe Biden made a reference into the ‘buy American’ part of the project, along with the various other telecoms programmes being government-backed under the umbrella that is Internet for All, in his State of Union address at the start of the year. Following this, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is administering the BEAD project, confirmed its expectation for fibre-optic equipment used by the programme’s participants to be made in America.
It’s clear that Adtran want a piece of the action, and paired with the $42.45 billion in funding being allocated to the various states in June, its not too difficult to see why. As such, it intends to expand its US production of optical line termination (OLT) equipment and had been preparing to onshore the manufacturing of Optical Network Terminals (ONTs).
In a refusal to be outdone, Nokia followed along by announcing itself as the first telecoms vendor to manufacture fibre broadband optical modules in the US for use in BEAD. It is doing this alongside Fabrinet, and says it will produce multi-rate optical modules using the Fabrinet facility in Santa Clara, California, and will begin next year.
Alongside this, it pledged to create new, high-tech jobs throughout the US, but no specifics were given.
This announcement was the second of its kind in so many weeks from Nokia specifically. They had also shared plans to use Sanmina’s Corporation’s facility in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to manufacture OLT cards, optical modules, and an outdoor-hardened ONT.
”Many in the industry have said that manufacturing optical modules in the US was impossible. Today, we’re proving it can be done,” Sandy Motley, President of Fixed Networks at Nokia, said.
‘Working alongside the Department of Commerce and Fabrinet, we’re excited to add optical modules to the list of technology solutions that will be produced here in the US and become available to programmes like BEAD which are so critical to bridging the digital divide.”
The BEAD funding has been split between all 50 states based on need and demand; the states now have until the 1st of December to submit their proposals to the NTIA in order to access that funding. Then, the states will be able to allocate the money in the form of grants to recipients down the line. Until then, however, we can expect more equipment manufacturers to be announcing their US-based production. It’s clear that Nokia and Adtran won’t be the only companies jumping on the ‘Buy America’ trend.