Fiber Optic Cabinets, Cables, Pedestals and Terminals

The first $42.45 billion BEAD grant awards should be occurring in the second half of 2024, part of a five-year process to connect millions of unserved and underserved households and businesses with fiber broadband. In addition, every week I see new private investment infrastructure announcements as companies see the long-term value of building fiber to replace legacy copper and coax networks.

If connecting homes and businesses wasn’t enough, the AI boom is expected to double the number of data center locations in the next five years, according to Nvidia. How much of this will be traditional cloud-based facilities vs. edge-computing is yet to be determined, but no matter where compute goes, fiber will be there to assure low-latencies and tremendous speeds.

Fiber will go into many places using many ways, with the tick-tick-tick of the clock pushing deployment to occur rapidly to reduce the average of 67% (aerial) to 73% (underground) labor for build costs. Efficiency in labor usage will not be optional but required to contain costs and get households and businesses hooked up as rapidly as possible.

But exactly how will fiber be deployed? The preference for many will be underground, long-term protection against mundane problems as such squirrels and the occasional bad driver along with the unpredictable variable of Mother Nature in the form of ice storms, tornados, hurricanes, and wildfires. For others, the convenience of existing poles and inconvenience of rocky ground will lead to aerial delivery of fiber.

Multi-dwelling units, MDUs, present their own challenges and opportunities. Every complex is different, requiring flexibility and the ability to adapt to the unique conditions presented at each location. We’ve seen everything from building owners simply deploying fiber to the basement and delivering broadband over existing wiring to full-scale fiber deployment to every unit in the building. Some service providers have standardized on Clearfield hardware because it provides a standard and flexible way to accommodate diverse MDU layouts across their territories.

In addition, there are more unconventional methods for delivering fiber, such as discreetly putting it on a surface such as directly on a road or the side of a house, then protectively covered against the weather, paint, and the aforementioned squirrels. In the future, we may see innovative solutions in boring and other types of outside plant technologies to further increase speed and reduce cost along with the construction industry incorporating fiber into prefabricated structures and homes coming out of factories. I’m not sure how fast 3-D printed homes will take off, but they are certainly being built with conduit for fiber.

Homes passed is a great statistic to brag about, but homes connected is what pays the bills at the end of the day. The faster homes are connected, the faster and more quickly recurring revenue adds to the bottom line. Our craft-friendly labor-lite solutions require minimal training while increasing efficiency, enabling up to double the speed of installation over traditional splicing use. Regardless of how it arrives at the residence, business, or data center, fiber will need to be connected quickly for users and Clearfield will be there to cut installation time for service providers and installers.

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 currently serves on the Fiber Broadband Association Senior Council Committee and has also held various leadership positions at the Fiber Broadband Association, including Board of Directors Chair for 2015, 2019, and 2022. Morgan holds an Electrical Engineering degree from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Alabama.