Wednesday, July 14, 2021

WHAT’S YOUR “PLAN B?”

The phrase “tip of the iceberg” seems to be the most fitting way to describe the last 18 months and impact it’s had on the global supply chain. We’ve seen the effect of COVID-19 on worldwide supplies of everything from toilet paper to coffee. We’ve experienced the residual aftermath on the broadband industry from weather-related storms in the Southwest impacting the resin and plastics industry. We’ve read the headlines of clogged shipping lanes halting billions of dollars of goods. And now we’re in the midst of a shipping container shortage that may have a trickle-down effect on business for the next 12-18 months.

In the wake of these disturbances to the supply chain and manufacturing industry, the role of distribution is more important to the broadband industry than ever before. Today, service providers and network contractors alike are becoming more sophisticated in seeing the value of buying more from fewer suppliers. Aggregating their spend and managing fewer relationships is beginning to outweigh any cost benefits associated with buying direct.

At Comstar Supply, we don’t believe our customers should have to adapt their operations to the disruption and evolution of the supply chain. It’s the job of a distributor to manage stock, coordinate logistics, and ensure product availability, providing a turn-key, all-in-one solution that takes the guesswork out of the hands of multiple vendors.

Take a step back and imagine the list of material required to construct and deliver a fiber-optic network. Now imagine the number of manufacturers needed to fulfill that list. If our customers had to directly manage and coordinate with each of these manufacturers, the end result would be customers would have to invest in internal resources that are not mission-critical to their overall business goals.

That’s where Comstar Supply comes in. We have nearly 30 years of experience deciphering and managing through disruption of the supply chain. We manage hundreds of relationships with to ensure the required OSP materials is delivered where and when it’s needed for our customers.

Of course, with every partnership the most critical aspect of the relationship is communication. A distributor should be sharing news on any impacts on product due to supply chain issues, while end users should be sharing construction plans for the next 6-18 months. This will not only allow both the customer and distributor to ensure complete ownership over the bill of material, but it also allows for time to build a “Plan B” – meaning an approved, alternate plan that allows for the greatest amount of flexibility in case of emergency. As the supply chain moves past the tip of the iceberg, it’s important for customer to have a pre-approved Plan B in place that can be initiated at a moment’s notice to help keep plans continually moving forward.

Although the last 18 months have proven difficult, the next 18 months may prove to be even more so as we continue to experience residual fallout from COVID. Building a true distributor partnership will become mission critical for the broadband industry as it continues to ride the wave of investment and construction of fiber networks during this turbulent time. 

 

 

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

A Quick Recap of Federal Broadband Investments and Fiber Construction

A tentative agreement was recently reached on a $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Framework which includes $65 billion in broadband investment. It’s the latest federal funding initiative looking to bolster the availability of high-speed Internet access to homes and more rural areas of the U.S.

Specific to the most recent deal, it’s projected that $40 billion would go directly to the states for rural broadband, $15 billion to the USDA ReConnect program, with the remaining $10 billion split between a bond program to fund public/private broadband partnerships and a digital equity program aimed at increasing broadband adoption.

Now, consider this funding on top of some of the announcements about building fiber in 2022 summarized in a recent blog post The Fiber Expansion Craze from CCG Consulting:

·       RDOF fiber construction probably starts next year.

·       It’s anticipated that much of the $10 billion earmarked for broadband in the ARPA plan will end up as fiber construction over the next two years. It’s also expected that some cities and counties will use some of the $350 billion in ARPA funds to build fiber.

·       The new NTIA grants expect fiber networks to be built in one year.

·       There are also beefed-up grant programs at USDA and EDA that will start next year.

·       Verizon is in the midst of a many-year fiber buildout to pass 25 million homes by 2025 with fiber to support its Verizon Home fiber-to-the-curb service.

·       AT&T announced it’s going to pass 3 million new homes and businesses this year and 2 million homes next year with fiber, to add to the 14.5 million already passed.

·       Altice has announced plans to upgrade 500,000 passings from HFC to fiber this year.

·       Fronter announced as it was coming out of bankruptcy that it plans to pass 495,000 homes with fiber this year.

·       CenturyLink is planning on passing at least 400,000 premises with fiber this year plus the company is still expanding its middle-mile fiber network.

·       Consolidated Communications plans on passing 300,000 homes with fiber this year.

·       Windstream plans to add several hundred thousand fiber passing this year.

·       Numerous smaller telcos like Ziply, TDS, and Cincinnati Bell have aggressive fiber expansion plans.

·       Numerous fiber projects from the CAF II reverse auction are now under construction.

·       Smaller telcos are continuing to build fiber under the ACAM program.

·       Dozens of electric cooperatives are building FTTP.

·       Numerous ReConnect grant projects from the past several years are now under construction.

·       State grants have funded significant fiber projects.

·       Independent fiber builders across the country like Google Fiber, MetroNet, US Internet, and numerous municipalities quietly continue to build fiber projects.

·       Cellular companies all continue to build fiber to replace cellular transport leases.

·       Long-haul fiber networks continue to expand.

·       Electric companies are aggressively expanding smart grid networks.

·       Cable companies use significant fiber every year to split nodes.

As we can all agree, the current demand period will not slow down any time soon. As such, allocating fiber with a well-positioned distributor like Comstar Supply is critical. We're well positioned with a number of fiber manufacturers and can access all major product lines that accompany installation. We can create a customized solution for every type of customer that takes the guesswork out of outside plant needs and allows for a smooth transition from planning to construction to delivery of service. Comstar Supply works with customers to tailor a system that allows us to distribute fiber facilities monthly based on need, while allowing for additions or subtractions of orders. To learn more,  contact your local Comstar Supply sales rep to today.