United States Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, along with the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson, travelled to Hickory, North Carolina, on March 29 as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Investing in America tour to announce new fibre optic cable production in the United States made possible by the Internet for All Initiative. The Internet for All Initiative is a programme that seeks to provide everyone with internet access.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law mandates American-made materials and products for federally funded infrastructure initiatives, such as the deployment of high-speed Internet in the United States. Today, two major manufacturers in the vicinity of Hickory announced new investments and partnerships. To help close the digital divide, CommScope and Corning are investing nearly $550 million and creating hundreds of new employees in America to construct fibre optic cables.
Since the president’s inauguration, the Biden-Harris Administration has worked to introduce affordable, high-speed Internet to nearly 17 million American households.
Secretary Richard Raimondo pointed out that the United States has a tremendous opportunity to not only eliminate the digital divide for millions of Americans but also to revitalise the domestic manufacturing industry, produce more goods and technologies in the United States, and create good manufacturing jobs in Hickory and throughout the country.
President Biden has made it plain that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act represents an opportunity for investment in the United States, she said.
Raimondo added that with the latest announcements, this investment would continue by producing the fibre that will be used to connect everyone to the Internet in the United States using American-made products.
On the same day, CommScope announced a $47 million investment to expand its U.S. fibre optic cable manufacturing, including its Catawba facility, which is already the largest hybrid-fibre-coaxial facility for broadband networks. This facility, according to CommScope, will produce a novel rural fibre optic cable designed specifically for rural areas.
Corning also announced the expansion of its manufacturing capacity in the United States with the inauguration of a manufacturing campus near Hickory. Since 2020, Corning has invested more than $500 million in the fibre and cable manufacturing industry. The company has also formed a partnership with the National Telecommunications and Computer Association (NTCA), aka, The Rural Broadband Association, with the intention of devoting a portion of the cable that is manufactured at its facility to smaller rural providers and co-ops that will ultimately connect all of the people in the country.
Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and administrator of National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), stated that CommScope and Corning’s pronouncements would help ensure that we have the fibre required to construct affordable, dependable high-speed Internet networks. The NTIA is focused on deploying these networks and investing in American employment and manufacturing in the process.
The $65 billion Internet for All initiative of the Biden-Harris administration will help close the digital divide in the country. Twenty-four million U.S. households lack Internet access at present. The NTIA is addressing this issue with $48 billion in grant programmes to expand high-speed Internet access nationwide by financing planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programmes.