AT&T locks down fiber supply from Corning

Sept. 30, 2021
AT&T would seem to have lessened any supply chain uncertainty it may have experienced by placing a large enough order to spur Corning into expanding its manufacturing capacity to meet it.

Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) says it has expanded its fiber cable supply agreement with AT&T (NYSE: T). The fiber and cable manufacturer plans to invest $150 million to expand manufacturing capacity in its Hickory, NC, facility “[b]ased on AT&T’s long-term commitment to its network buildout.” Corning will add an initial 200 employees in line with the expansion effort.

With millions of government dollars being poured into the broadband infrastructure market, there have been fears of (and some actual experiences of) materials and technology shortages (see, for example, "Broadband market stays hot in 2Q21 thanks to FTTP: Dell’Oro"). Such technologies include fiber-optic cabling. AT&T would seem to have lessened any supply chain uncertainty it may have experienced by placing a large enough order to spur Corning into expanding its manufacturing capacity to meet it.

“With this capacity expansion, Corning is addressing demand from leading network operators -- in particular AT&T, which previously announced plans to significantly expand its fiber footprint," said Michael A. Bell, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Optical Communications, via a press release issued by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. "We believe the industry is in the early stages of a major growth cycle, and we’re turning once again to the highly skilled local workforce in Catawba County to help us meet the demand. We deeply appreciate the support of local and state officials, particularly Governor Roy Cooper, Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders, and state lawmakers.”

“We see expansion of our fiber infrastructure as central to the growth of our broadband reach, for consumers as well as business customers,” added Mo Katibeh, senior vice president, AT&T Network Infrastructure & Build. “By extending our collaboration with Corning, we’ll create American jobs through manufacturing investments and also through the economic benefits that broadband brings to our communities.”

If the promise of steady purchases from AT&T wasn’t enough to get Corning to bump up capacity in Hickory, the State of North Carolina is adding a sweetener in the form of a Job Development Investment Grant. The grant could be worth as much as $2,041,200 to Corning over 12 years.

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