U.S. may be exporting its fiber future

Steve Brown's "Regulation & Policy" column in the January Lightwave [page 19], plus the reported forecasts that lightwave-component manufacturing was rapidly moving to China [January, page 1], brought to mind the rumors circulated about the contracts for the first AT&T fiber-optic backbones 20 years ago.

The story circulating in the industry was the U.S. government considered the Northeast Corridor link from Boston to Washington, DC a strategic communication link. While some government agencies were forcing AT&T to get competitive bids (remember this was pre-divestiture, during a very contentious period in American telecommunications), others forced the dismissal of bids from a foreign supplier (Fujitsu?).

So now the government stands by while the manufacturing of important telecommunications components and systems goes offshore—and to countries that might not support our requirements in troubled times. Does this make sense?

It's bad enough to lose our technical R&D, engineering, and manufacturing expertise to downsizing and layoffs, but to allow it to be exported without question is, well, questionable.

Jim Hayes
President, Fiber Optic Association, Malden, MA
Tel: 781-397-2400
E-mail: info@thefoa.org
Website: http://www.thefoa.org

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