Ciena partners with Flex to support BEAD-funded broadband projects

Nov. 30, 2023
The new partnership will enable it to help smaller providers take advantage of its new line of OLTs and ONUs for fiber broadband network projects.

Ciena is adding domestic manufacturing through an expanded agreement with global diversified manufacturer Flex. The company expects to begin production of pluggable optical line terminals (OLTs) and its optical network units (ONU) at a Flex factory in the U.S. in mid-2024.

Advancing its commitment to roll out high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved communities, the company said its investments will support the U.S. government’s Broadband Equity Adoption and Deployment (BEAD) projects, create new jobs and help broadband service providers comply with the Build America Buy America (BABA) requirements.

A vital part of the agreement is scale.

According to the terms of the agreement, Flex will provide advanced manufacturing capabilities, including specialized optical transceiver assembly and supply chain services, enabling Ciena to quickly ramp up high-volume production of its innovative pluggable OLTs and ONUs at scale.

This U.S. expansion builds on a 20-year global relationship. As a result of its partnership with Flex, Ciena is positioned to enable U.S. network providers with greater ability to leverage the BEAD program to expand their local footprint and business opportunities.

“As stewards of the digital networks that underpin our lives, we are excited to announce the first U.S.-based manufacture of our unique pluggable optical line terminal (OLT) solution,” said Gary Smith, CEO of Ciena. “We take immense pride in advancing American innovation and strengthening domestic supply chains.”

Focus on PON

While Ciena is well known for building core optical technology, the vendor has been moving to address the growing fiber broadband opportunity.

Ciena has developed pluggable OLT technology. Through its partnership with Flex, will be manufactured in America. As a key enabling technology in next-generation broadband deployments, Ciena’s pluggable OLTs are part of a broadband portfolio that includes access infrastructure, middle-mile networks, and essential software and services.

The vendor claims its pluggable OLTs can increase network sustainability and efficiency by connecting more homes at higher speeds per unit of power and space than competing solutions.

Eying 25G

While 10 XGS-PON is the defacto platform for next-gen fiber broadband today, the industry is looking to the future of 25G. The adoption of 25G and higher speed PON iterations like 50G will expand the utility of PON to serve other applications like business services and wholesale carrier opportunities such as wireless backhaul.

Because Ciena’s host routing platforms are already 25G ready, service providers won’t have to make a new hardware replacement, further maximizing the solutions’ sustainable footprint.

The vendor will also develop its next-generation 25GS-PON pluggable OLTs and ONUs in the U.S., providing an evolution path for service providers.