Fiber-based networks make up the majority of the Internet backbone. Undersea fiber optic cables stretching thousands of miles connect continents together, exchanging data at almost the speed of light. Meanwhile, the massive data centers that house all of our cloud-based applications also rely on fiber connections. Increasingly, these fiber connections go directly to people’s homes, providing them with fast and reliable internet. But only 43% of American households have access to a fiber Internet connection.
“In some cases, especially in rural areas and very challenging geographies, fiber deployment can be extremely expensive and it can be very expensive for households to pay for it,” says Julija Jurkevic, senior research analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Act passed in November 2021 promises to close this digital divide, with $65 billion dedicated to expanding high-speed internet access for all Americans. This government support, along with a number of other factors, has caused a surge in demand for fiber products.
To understand the technology behind fiber optic Internet and the changing market for fiber optic products, CNBC visited Corning’s fiber optic and cable manufacturing facilities in North Carolina. Most famous as the maker of Gorilla Glass for the iPhone, Corning is also the world’s largest fiber optic producer by manufacturing capacity and market share, as well as the largest fiber cable maker in North America. . In the second quarter of 2022, Corning disclosed that the optical communications business was its largest segment by revenue, reaching sales of $1.3 billion.
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