US manufacturing jobs return as AT&T, Corning launch Arizona plant

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EXCLUSIVE: The private sector creates the first fiber optic plant in the western US as the industry tries to keep up with record demand to expand broadband access and bring jobs back home.

Corning, in partnership with AT&T, will make the announcement Tuesday from the site of its future Gilbert, Arizona plant, which is expected to be operational in 2024. The project will expand production capacity for optical cable, which is critical for Internet access and 5G.

The move will bring manufacturing jobs back home, a target on both sides of the political aisle as the US economy tries to keep up with competitors on a range of technology. Japan and China are the largest exporters of fiber optic cable, according to the latest data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity.

The companies say demand for the product has surged during the pandemic after supply chain problems caused short-term shortages and more Americans started working remotely. According to the Pew Research Center, about three-quarters of adults in the US today have broadband internet access at home.

“It’s the last mile that’s the challenging part,” AT&T CEO John Stankey told FOX Business in an exclusive joint interview with Corning CEO Wendell Weeks. “There’s an awful lot of core infrastructure set up. Now we have to go to the homes. We have to go to those smaller companies that haven’t had the benefit of fiber.”

CORNING BUILDING A MOAT OF FIBEROPTIC CABLE

ticker Safety Last Change Change %
t AT&T INC. 17.82 +0.04 +0.20%
GLW CORNING INC. 34.53 +0.17 +0.51%

The project is expected to create 250 jobs, but that’s far less than what experts say the industry needs to support its long-term goals. Corning estimates that an additional 850,000 jobs will need to be created by 2025 to install the fiber optic cable once it is constructed and ready to deploy.

FUTURE OF 5G DEVELOPMENT, IMPLEMENTATION IS WITH WIRELESS COMPANIES, NOT FEDERAL GOVERNMENT: FORMER OFFICIAL

An image of the inside of a fiber optic cable. (iStock/iStock)

“This new facility will provide additional optical cable capacity to meet the record industry demand for fast, reliable connectivity,” Stankey said in an earlier statement on Tuesday. “We’re also working with Corning to create training programs to equip the next generation of engineers with the skills to build the networks that will extend high-speed Internet access for millions of Americans.”

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John Stankey, CEO of AT&T, speaks at the MediaLink Presents: MASS subclass: The New Age of Mass Personalization panel on the Times Center Stage during 2016 Advertising Week New York on September 28, 2016 in New York City. (John Lamparski/Getty Images for Advertising Week New York/Getty Images)

The project is part of a nearly $500 million private commitment from Corning to expand broadband access. It comes amid a renewed focus on gaining Internet access for Americans, after the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was passed last year for $65 billion in new broadband spending.

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“This is a technology where we are leading the way,” Weeks added. “Our job is to make sure we have enough capacity in the ground to meet the rising demand. That’s what this announcement is about.”

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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