Corning’s hardened connectivity innovations have brought high-speed connections to millions – and we’re not finished yet
By Kara Mullaley
Published: June 29, 2023
Twenty years ago, the telecommunications industry was facing a challenge: How do you take the benefits of high-speed fiber connectivity, and bring them all the way to the consumer? How do you bring fiber to the home, and do it at scale – connecting homes by the millions?
Corning’s engineers looked at this challenge and saw opportunity. Their answer: Move the splicing from the field to the factory and create a true connectivity solution. By creating the industry’s first fully pre-connectorized optical connectivity solutions, Corning ushered in the era of fiber to the home.
Today I’m thrilled to report that Corning has reached a major milestone in bringing fiber to homes around the world: As of this year, Corning’s hardened connectivity solutions have passed over 100 million homes globally.
Those engineers who developed Corning’s first generation of pre-engineered solutions could not have fully envisioned the way fiber has enabled broadband use in our homes today. Think of the array of devices we rely on from the time we get up in the morning, from phones to TVs to tablets and laptops. And surely, they did not envision a global pandemic, where millions of us would consult with our doctors through a video connection or collaborate at home in real time with work colleagues around the world. Fiber connections really do touch every aspect of our daily lives.
Corning believes everyone should have access to a fast, reliable broadband connection. That’s why, since those first hardened connectivity solutions, we have continued to innovate – always with a focus on helping operators deploy their networks more cost-effectively, with faster, simpler installation that lessens their reliance on specialized labor. It’s important for our industry to focus on this kind of innovation, because we need to address not only the needs of today but plan for future growth as well. To understand what’s ahead, just look at the numbers.
Why it matters
Homes that are “passed” by fiber means that they can be connected to fiber running along the main road through a terminal, such as Corning’s Evolv® with Pushlok™. To put the 100 million figure in context, a December report by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) put the number of passed homes in the U.S. at 68 million, and figures from the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Europe note that the number of homes passed in Europe reached 219 million last September.
To me, what’s interesting about these numbers is not just the size but the rapid growth they represent. The FBA report states that 7.9 million homes were passed by fiber just in 2022 -- a 13% growth over the year prior, making it the highest annual deployment to date. In the EU, 20 million homes were passed just last year.
According to a report from OpenVault, the average household consumed 586.7 GB of data each month, an increase of 9.4% over 2021. Video is a tremendous driver of traffic, accounting for about 65% of all Internet traffic, according to a study from Sandvine.
This means that the demand for broadband networks is increasing exponentially. As the only medium capable of enabling new and emerging technologies such as 5G, fiber is the most future-ready technology for carriers to plan for this insatiable demand from consumers and businesses alike.
Plenty of work remains to be done, of course, in order to make “Internet for All” a reality, particularly in rural areas. That’s why we’re glad to see a wave of public and private investment in broadband. One significant driver of growth will be the U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $65 billion in new spending for broadband. Of that amount, $42 billion will go toward new infrastructure under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
What hardened connectivity brings
To bring this back to Corning’s perspective, we are also seeing a rapid rise in adoption driven by evolving technology. In 2019, our record for homes passed with hardened connectivity was only 52 million – meaning we added nearly 50 million more homes in just a few short years. Key to this acceleration is the broader adoption of hardened connectivity by large and small carriers around the world.
What makes or breaks a broadband network business case isn’t the fiber cable, but the connection points that branch cables repeatedly to reach individual homes and businesses. Hardened connectivity accelerates and simplifies broadband deployments, reducing the requirement for highly specialized labor. That’s especially important right now, in a time of labor constraints. The alternative is terminal boxes that need to be opened and spliced in the field, exposing equipment to environmental hazards, technician errors, and adding time and expense to the process.
Through every generation of our pre-engineered solutions, Corning has helped set the standard and build trust in our industry, allowing fiber networks to be built quickly and reliably. Nearly half of the 100 million homes Corning has passed rely on our FlexNAP™ system, a preconnectorized cable solution tailored to fit network operators’ exact specifications. Another critical concern today is congested pathways: Our Evolv® Terminals with Pushlok™ Technology leverage smaller connectors and physically occupy less space, in turn reducing the size and cost of the pathway infrastructure itself. Our newer additions to the Evolv portfolio include terminals that support fiber-lean distributed tap and traditional distributed split architectures gaining popularity in North America.
The future is fiber
At Corning, we’re proud of the accomplishment represented by 100 million homes passed, but most of all, we’re thrilled to expand that number every day and enable more individuals the opportunity to experience the benefits of high-speed broadband.
We see tremendous potential for fiber to bring connectivity to homes all over the world, and we’re proud of the way Corning’s hardened connectivity solutions help operators “push the easy button” to deploy their networks in a cost-effective manner.