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Celebrating 20 Years of the Fiber Broadband Association: What We’ve Accomplished, What We Still Have to Do

By Joe Jensen
Published: August 5, 2021

Twenty years after its founding, the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) remains committed to making the case that optical fiber is the best, most robust technology on which to build our collective future. The goal we set out with was to help the public understand fiber’s economic value and build a deep, sustainable market for the technology. As we also mark 50 years since the creation of optical fiber technology, it’s worth reflecting as an industry on how far we’ve come and the challenges still ahead of us.


In thinking of some of the significant milestones of our success, here are just a few that come to mind:

  • Fiber is now the industry standard for new network deployment.
  • More than 54 million homes in the U.S. now have fiber-to-the-home [FTTH] deployed as of last year.
  • Demand for fiber installation is greater than ever, and is only projected to grow.

Consumer, business and government interest in fiber has never been greater, a fact reflected by both the record number of attendees at this year’s Fiber Connect conference in Nashville and by the growing adoption of optical fiber in industries across the world.

Heading into 2020 our industry had tremendous momentum. The pandemic only accelerated the trend, as more people than ever embraced remote work, education and entertainment. Over the next five years, it is anticipated that more fiber networks will be built than all FTTH  that has been deployed to date. It’s safe to say we've crossed a threshold – more network operators are prioritizing this technology than ever, and consumers are showing a clear preference for it.

What the Fiber Broadband Association and Corning are Doing Now

Our industry still has work to do, and here’s where the FBA is concentrating its efforts:

  • Advocating at both federal and state levels around the benefits of fiber and ensuring fiber is a preference as funds are being allocated.
  • Educating network operators around funding options at both state and federal levels, and working with communities to develop training programs to improve workforce availability.
  • Offering business model support and raising vendor awareness for telcos, co-ops, or municipalities that need help assessing, financing, constructing, and operating new FTTX networks.

We at the FBA and Corning are doing all this because we know the time is right to invest nationwide in a future-proof networking technology that will last. We’ve made this case to Congress – which is currently considering a number of long-overdue bills to upgrade and overhaul our nation’s infrastructure – and people are listening.

The Challenges Ahead

There are, of course, obstacles we need to overcome. The “easy” installments for FTTH  – largely suburban areas where demand is sufficient and older infrastructure isn’t a hindrance – will soon be accomplished. Going forward, we need to be ready to meet growing demand in both super-dense urban areas as 5G deployments roll out, and remote rural areas where FTTX installation is costlier, technically more difficult or both.

We’re also facing disruptions in both supply chains and in the market for skilled installation labor. The former – which is impacting some companies’ ability to get necessary raw or finished materials – is a short-term problem, since some companies are making the necessary investments, and the industry has learned to adapt to constricted supply chains before.

The lack of labor availability is probably a greater challenge, and it could significantly slow fiber installment or make it too expensive compared to other technologies just as demand starts to escalate.

Corning is prepared to help the industry meet this and other challenges with our Evolv™ line of connectivity solutions. The Evolv™ solutions, which feature our Pushlok™ technology, are made to be easier to deploy and don’t require specialized skills to install. The latest iteration – which we showed off for the first time at Fiber Connect – uses a fiber-lean distributed tap architecture to address some of the specific challenges of rural deployment. It’s also optimized for installation in smaller, tight spaces, and thus is highly versatile.

This solution is for any instance where networks converge, and where many use cases – household, business or wireless handoff location – need to be satisfied by a single, high-bandwidth cable.

A lot has happened in the industry over the last 20 years, and it’s gratifying to see how far we’ve come. The challenges ahead will be met by industry participants remaining diligent, flexible and innovative, and we at Corning will continue to develop our product line to help operators meet growing broadband demand. We look forward to more years of innovation and relish the opportunities ahead to keep building the future. For more information on Corning’s fiber optic offerings, visit our Fiber-to-the-Premise page.

Joe Jensen leads the Americas Market Development team for Corning. With 18 years of telecom experience in engineering, product management, and product development, Joe pioneers FTTx architectures, optical solution advancement, and design optimization for today's evolving networks. This approach to optical network evolution helps make fiber based access networks more accessible by using innovation to lower barriers to deployment.

His most recent areas of contribution focus on converged network architectures and defining potential impacts of next generation networks such as 4G densification and 5G on both the carrier infrastructure and investment business case. Joe obtained his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from NCSU and Executive MBA from UNC Chapel Hill.

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