Gary Bolton, President & CEO of the Fiber Broadband Association, has been named Person of the Year for 2021 by “fibertoday.com,” a daily fiber optics report edited and published by David Chaffee and available by email.
Each year fibertoday.com recognizes an industry stalwart who has made valuable contributions to fiber optics. “Through the highly regarded Fiber Broadband Association, which he leads, Gary Bolton has provided outstanding leadership in connecting the fiber optics industry with leading policy, technology, community and business leaders as fiber optics undergoes a period of unparalleled growth,” said Chaffee.
“The Fiber Broadband Association continues to lead our industry through this pivotal and momentous time,” said Gary Bolton. “It’s our goal to use our collective voice and experience to demonstrate the economic and societal benefits that only fiber can deliver, and it’s an honor to be recognized by an industry publication for our progress in that effort.”
To highlight the 2021 Person of the Year’s contributions to fiber optics, fibertoday.com published a three-part interview series with Gary Bolton. The following is an excerpt from part one of the interview series.
fibertoday.com: The conditions for fiber optics buildout are close to ideal. In the U.S. alone, there are aggressive fiber buildouts from major carriers and unprecedented broadband funding coming from the federal government. Certainly 2022 appears to be shaping up to be a banner year. Yet some of us recall only too vividly in the early 2000s when the industry took a sharp nosedive. How long do you anticipate these favorable conditions continuing?
Gary Bolton: We are entering an exceptionally strong investment environment for Fiber Broadband deployment. The industry excitement is similar to the feeling we had during the Internet boom in the mid-to-late 1990s, but the bubble burst of the early 2000s was precipitated by the terrorist attacks of 9/11, coupled with an overvalued speculative market. On the other hand, the current fiber investment cycle was spurred by the global pandemic, which accelerated the adoption of broadband applications such as Zoom conferencing, telemedicine and remote healthcare, and work-from-home. Almost overnight, broadband went from entertainment to becoming mission critical. It is clear that virtual work, school and healthcare are here to stay. This investment in fiber broadband is not limited to federal subsidies but has spurred significant private CapEx investment. We are seeing a Fiber CapEx environment that will be 4-6x the traditional run rate. The Fiber Broadband Association’s most recent fiber provider study indicates that more fiber will be deployed in the next 5 years than the past 20 years.
fibertoday.com: Because of these positive conditions, many fiber optic vendors are rapidly scaling up operations as rapidly as they can. Yet in some instances they are constrained by global shortages. What is your level of confidence that the supply will be there to meet the demand for fiber goods?
Gary Bolton: The Fiber Broadband Association has been keeping a careful eye on the fiber supply chain. Our analysis shows that there were 73 million miles of fiber demand in 2021 and 109 million miles of domestic fiber supply. The 37 million miles of fiber surplus was exported to other regions. As the U.S. fiber deployment continues to ramp, domestic fiber suppliers will reserve more of the domestic production for domestic deployment in the short term. In the mid-to-long term, all our domestic fiber manufacturers have announced investment in new manufacturing facilities and the expansion of existing facilities. While the fiber optics supply in the US is robust, we have had a shortage of resin for cable production. We anticipate this shortage should abate within the next 16 months based on new plant announcements. We have also seen an electronic chip shortage that has impacted the availability of the active components in fiber-to-the-home solutions. We are forecasting that the chip shortages should abate in the next 12 months. In summary, we believe that supply chain challenges should be manageable in the next term with a better focus on forecasting. The signing of the broadband infrastructure investment has provided strong visibility, enabling the supply-side of the industry to make the appropriate investments in expanding capacity.
To request the complete interview series, and for more information on how to subscribe to fibertoday.com by email, please contact David Chaffee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About David Chaffee:
C. David Chaffee, the editor and publisher of fibertoday.com, has been active in the fiber optics industry since 1983, starting the first publication on fiber optics (Fiber Optics News). He has written two books on fiber optics (The Rewiring of America, The Fiber Optics Revolution) and Building the Global Fiber Optics Superhighway), as well as more than 25 market research reports and numerous marketing and technical articles. His company, Chaffee Fiber Optics, also does consulting, marketing and business development in the photonics area.
Now in its 25th year of publication, fibertoday.com is the longest running daily report devoted to the fiber optics industry. fibertoday.com is published every business day for those interested in fiber optic business and technology trends. (c) fibertoday.com is published for the sole use of its paying subscribership. It is not to be republished without the express written permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.