Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

The fiber industry is experiencing an explosion of market demand and once-in-a-generation funding opportunities from federal and state authorities with the goal of bridging the digital divide. In fact, technology innovations are happening all around us in unrelated fields but that’s about to change and here’s one example—Electric Vehicles (EVs). 

The EV market is receiving much attention these days. An estimated 38 new EV models are expected to roll off the assembly lines from legacy OEMs in 2022/23. The market acceleration in EV sales is poised for a huge jump. This is especially true in the delivery of last-mile fleet vehicles from Ford, Rivian, GM, Mercedes-Benz, and others in 2022 and 2023. And with the latest inflation reports showing gas prices increasing by 48% in the last 12 months, there are strong economic incentives to accelerate plans to convert to electric vehicles. 

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized $65 billion for broadband deployment and $7.5 billion for EV charging infrastructure. Most of the attention on EV charging infrastructure focuses on its impact to the electrical grid, but connectivity is the hidden issue that needs to be addressed before construction takes place. The EV infrastructure grants have no provision for the connectivity piece at all as far as I can tell.  They are simply funding the placement of these stations in anticipation of the millions of vehicles coming down the road.  The big story with all of this is that if predictions come true and the country shifts to a majority of EVs, it is expected to increase the power load on the grid by an additional 25% more than its current capacity. 

Connectivity is not a pressing issue and doesn’t receive attention.  Today’s EV charging stations only require a small amount of communication to go into the cloud which is satisfied with a cellular connection.  Consequently, these manufacturers integrate a SIM card (cellular) for this communication. A heartbeat signal gets sent into the cloud to indicate that the EV charging station is operational.  If the heartbeat stops, then a truck roll ensues, and a technician has to fix it.  The other communication need is an equivalent of a Point of Sale (POS) transaction working with credit card companies.  That’s it for now.  However, I foresee a day in the future when AVs with V2X will drastically change that model.

Think about it.  Many charging station locations have little to no cellular service. This is especially true in parking garages. Wireless alternatives such as Wi-Fi are even less available, create cyber security risks, and require third-party software. Many building owners are left to solve this challenge on their own.

Why not turn to fiber to solve the connectivity issues associated with the EV charging infrastructure? Today, EV charging stations only require minimal data transfer to the cloud but as Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) become commonplace over the next decade, they will become heavy data users and require significant speeds to upload files to the cloud. The perfect onramp to the cloud will be the point at which the EVs sit still for charging. Fiber connections at the charging stations will be a natural precursor to the many fiber connections that will be required along the highway systems to Roadside Units (RSUs) for AVs with Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications. Plan ahead so that you can see what’s coming down the road.

Kevin leads the marketing efforts for Clearfield as Chief Marketing Officer. He joined the fiber company in 2016, leveraging his extensive experience in advanced communications technology, fiber optic systems, and business product marketing. Prior to joining Clearfield, he spent two decades serving in various senior marketing positions at ADTRAN. Before that, he spent a decade at telephone operating company BellSouth, now a part of AT&T, where he worked as the lead broadband product evaluations resource in the Science & Technology department.

Morgan is currently the Fiber Broadband Association Chair of the Board of Directors. Morgan has also served in various leadership positions at the Fiber Broadband Association, including Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for 2021. Morgan holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Alabama.