Buy America poses threat to US fiber deployments

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In his recent State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said all construction materials used in federal infrastructure projects — and he specifically mentioned fiber optic cables — must be made in America. On its face, that sounds like a nice policy that even Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Unfortunately, sometimes there are no US suppliers for certain components of fiber optic cables. New Street Research policy analyst Blair Levin wrote, “The Buy America policy if strictly enforced, could cause significant delays in actual deployments.”  One thing the Office of Management and Budget will be looking at is the percentage of any component that must be made in America. Currently, the threshold is 55% of a component. But OMB could move that threshold up or down. Fiber Broadband Association CEO Gary Bolton said the fiber optic glass is not the problem in terms of Buy America. The fiber optic glass, which looks a bit like a fishing line, is surrounded by coatings and support structures. These coatings and support structures use elements such as helium and neon and products such as petroleum, steel, and resins that are often sourced from outside the US.

Buy America poses threat to U.S. fiber deployments