Corning teamed with operator AT&T to commence work on a new cable manufacturing facility in the state of Arizona, designed to keep pace with growing demand for fibre across 5G, fixed broadband and cloud compute.

The cable that will be manufactured at the new plant, which is slated to open in 2024, is used to house the fibre optical strands.

Jeff Luong, president of broadband access and adoption at AT&T, stated to Mobile World Live (MWL) that his company is the US’ largest fibre builder, while Corning is the largest manufacturer.

The mobile operator is adding on average more than 350 customer locations per hour across the US as part of a plan to have its fibre network cover more than 30 million locations by the end of 2025.

While the financial details weren’t available, Luong stated the operator’s core investment in its partnership with Corning resulted in the manufacturer being able to stand up the new factory to support the growth and demand of fibre optic technology.

Other operators, such as Verizon, also stand to benefit from the new facility.

“We believe the more supply there is in the industry, both from a material perspective and resource perspective, will be a tide that lifts all boats,” Luong noted.

Series of investments
The Arizona facility, which will be the industry’s Western-most US site for optical cable, is part of a series of investments by Corning in fibre and cable manufacturing that have totalled more than $500 million since 2020.

A representative for Corning declined to provide the square footage of the new facility. ‘

During the vendor’s Q2 earnings last month, CEO and Chairman Wendell Weeks stated Corning’s service provider customers have made fibre optics a priority and that his company has asked those customers to make substantial financial commitments in order to increase supply.

Weeks also noted that labour remained the top issue for installations, which Corning and AT&T partially addressed earlier this year through their Fibre Optic Training program. The initiative aims to train 50,000 US workers over the next five years.

Luong stated the first training class recently graduated from the program.

He also noted the training program could be used as a blueprint by institutions and other entities across the US to help them create similar curriculums that would bring even more resources into the telecommunications industry.

“We continue to look for opportunity to grow that program to support the entire industry to make sure that not only do they have enough material to expand fibre, but there’s also the workforce available to actually put that material in the ground and get it connected to customers,” he said.