Home / News / Nokia Fiber Electronics Facility Likely to Alleviate ‘Buy America’ Concerns, Industry Says

Nokia Fiber Electronics Facility Likely to Alleviate ‘Buy America’ Concerns, Industry Says

Jun 03, 2023Jun 03, 2023

Nokia will continue to invest in American manufacturing in the coming years, said CEO.




KENOSHA, Wisconsin, August 3, 2023 – Analysts expressed optimism that Nokia’s Thursday announcement of an extensive fiber electronics manufacturing here will essentially eliminate concerns in the broadband industry about current Buy America requirements for federal investment.

On the same day as Nokia’s announcement of a manufacturing facility with Sanmina Corporation, a research note from New Street Research Policy Advisor Blair Levin, the Nokia plant, a new Corning plant and a limited waiver of Buy America rules for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program expected later this summer will now make it possible for BEAD subrecipients to comply with the Buy America mandates.

At the ceremonial announcement of the facility on Thursday afternoon by Kamala Harris, the vice president was joined by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.

“For years, manufacturing was the foundation of the economy here,” said Harris. Between 1990 and 2010, America lost more than 6 million manufacturing jobs, she said, claiming that the Biden Administration would reverse this process and give Americans “what they really need.”

“We are determined to create jobs in America and keep jobs in America, all of which leads us to today,” said Harris. Nokia is set to hire up to 200 new employees, build parts that are needed to connect people to high-speed internet, and onshore American manufacturing, she said. There is no limit to what we can achieve for nation, Harris concluded.

Raimondo celebrated the investment, saying it is the most sophisticated technology to be made in the United States. She concluded, “where is it written that we can’t manufacture in America? Nowhere.”

Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark said at the announcement that the electronics will be available in 2024 and will help the deployment of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program. “Nokia gets the job done,” he said, saying that the company has worked to invest in American jobs since the announcement of the BEAD program.

“We don’t plan to stop here,” Lundmark claimed, saying that the company will invest in more manufacturing plants in the coming years.

“The America worker is the best and most productive worker in the world,” added Sanmina CEO Jure Sola, to applause. He expressed their gratitude for the partnership with Nokia and hope for the future that the company will continue to grow

Nokia’s announcement is the latest of domestic manufacturing announcements spurred by the Biden Administration’s Made in America policies which seeks to support America’s manufacturing economy.

“Across the high-speed internet industry, most electronics products are not currently manufactured in the U.S., but Buy America provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are driving the onshoring of new manufacturing, particularly ahead of implementation of the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program,” said the White House.

Although Nokia’s announcement is the first of its kind to manufacture core electronic components of its fiber equipment in America, several fiber providers have announced similar investments in American manufacturing.

Corning, producer of optical fiber and cable, announced in June that it is opening a new manufacturing campus of passive optical equipment, rather than electronics, in North Carolina. Although the company declined to comment on Nokia’s announcement, a Corning spokesperson said of their North Carolina investment that it “is part of a series of investments by Corning in fiber and cable manufacturing totaling more than $500 million since 2020. Altogether, these investments nearly double Corning’s ability to serve the U.S. optical cable market – ensuring strong U.S. supply of optical fiber and cable to support network buildouts fund by the federal government’s BEAD program.”

Robert Conger, senior vice president of technology and strategy for fiber provider Adtran, told Broadband Breakfast of the Nokia announcement that “Adtran has been manufacturing networking equipment right here at our headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, for nearly 30 years. With our state-of-the-art facility and broad fiber networking portfolio that covers solutions ranging from the optical core to the customer premise, we’re one of the only vendors already primed to help service providers comply with Build America, Buy America.”

The Commerce Department is expected to release a limited BEAD Buy America waiver by late August, say industry sources.

According to Levin, “while the limited waiver still must be filed and ruled on, we [New Street Research] feel confident that the BEAD program will not hit any speed bumps related to the Buy America provisions.”

This follows comments by industry leaders urging NTIA action on Buy America waivers to enable effective BEAD build outs, claiming that not doing so will add complexity to an already complicated supply chain.

Provider of broadband network equipment CommScope recently announced a $60 million investment toward expanding its U.S. fiber optic cable manufacturing in North Carolina. The investment is set to create more than 250 new jobs over the next five years and create a fiber optic cable designed for rural networks.

Prysmian, a manufacturer of fiber optic cable, announced that it will invest $30 million to convert its Tennessee copper cable facility into a fiber optic cable manufacturing plant.

Buy America requirements ensure that 55 percent or more of iron, steel, fiber and construction materials as part of federally funded programs are manufactured in the U.S. The requirements follow the CHIPS and Science Act and Inflation Reduction Act which invest in American manufacturing for semiconductors and green energy plants.

According to the White House, the private sector has already invested more than $500 billion in new domestic manufacturing for semiconductors, electric batteries, electric vehicle charging, rail manufacturing, water parts and more.

Nokia Announced Domestic Manufacturing of Electronics Equipment for Fiber

Teralyn Whipple, who joined Broadband Breakfast in 2022, studied marketing at Brigham Young University. She has reported extensively on broadband infrastructure, investments and deployment. She has also headed marketing campaigns for several small companies.

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The manufacturing of the company’s fiber-optic broadband electronics products will start in 2024.




WASHINGTON, August 3, 2023 – Nokia is set to announce the U.S.-based manufacturing of key electronic components for fiber-optic broadband networks on Thursday.

The announcement, which is set to be made with Vice President Kamala Harris and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in Kenosha, Wisconsin, is specifically focused on providing U.S-manufactured electronics products and optical modules for use in the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program.

The Finland-based telecommunications company is partnering with Sanmina Corporation to manufacture products in Sanmina’s manufacturing facility in Kenosha. The announcement makes Nokia among the first telecom equipment manufacturers to announce that core electronic components of its fiber equipment will be made in America.

Requirements under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s BEAD program state that program recipients must source at least 55 percent of their components by cost from the United States, either manufactured, produced, or mined in the country.

This requirement is part of President Joe Biden’s Made in America agenda which seeks to support the country’s manufacturing economy. The regulation will increase the requirement to 75 percent by 2029, according to Biden.

The manufacturing of the company’s fiber-optic broadband electronics products will start in 2024, according to Nokia. Production is expected to bring up to 200 new jobs to Wisconsin’s state. Nokia said it will be able to supply its products and services to critical BEAD projects.

Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark said that the company is “committed to connecting people and communities. However, many Americans still lack adequate connectivity, leaving them at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing work, education and healthcare. Programs like BEAD can change this.”

“By bringing the manufacturing of our fiber-optic broadband access products to the U.S., BEAD participants will be able to work with us to bridge the digital divide. We look forward to bringing more Americans online,” Lundmark continued.

Jure Sola, chairman and CEO of Sanmina, said that the company is “excited to partner with Nokia to support their efforts to build robust and resilient high-tech fiber broadband networks that will connect people and societies. By continuing to invest in domestic manufacturing, Nokia and Sanmina will be able to help create a sustainable future for the industry, one that drives job growth and ensures the fiber products produced embody the quality and excellence associated with American manufacturing.”

The announcement comes a week after Biden’s “Made in America Week” that celebrated supporting American works and domestic businesses. The Biden Administration’s Investing in America initiative is investing billions of dollars into the United States’ domestic manufacturing. Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS and Science Act which invest in America’s electric vehicle and green energy plans and semiconductor manufacturing.

Biden ran his presidential election campaign on his initiative to move companies onshore, defend American supply chains, and create more jobs. According to the White House, the agenda has “already attracted hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment and created nearly 800,000 new manufacturing jobs in everything from semiconductors and electric car batteries to clean energy technology and more.”

Industry experts have called on the NTIA to provide clear guidelines on the implication of Buy America requirements for BEAD projects, claiming that the requirements spread uncertainty surrounding the impact of the funds due to the increased complexity of an already complicated supply chain. The NTIA has already issued waivers for its $1 billion Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program to exempt certain construction materials from the requirement list. NTIA head Alan Davidson, however, indicated that getting such exceptions for BEAD-funded projects would be very difficult.

Migrating into a full utility may take decades, but municipalities should be prepared.




WASHINGTON, July 21, 2023 – Municipalities need to own broadband infrastructure because internet service will eventually evolve into a form of utility, said Chris Perlitz, managing director at investment banking firm Municipal Capital Markets Group at the Fiber Broadband Association event, “Where’s The Funding?”, on Wednesday.

Municipalities currently do not have the expertise or capacity to operate a network which is where internet service providers come in and form a partnership, Perlitz said. However, in the future, artificial intelligence and machine learning will simplify the operation and the system will become a utility and managed by a municipality, he said.

Perlitz predicted that migrating into a full utility format may take decades. He urged municipalities to invest in networks now in preparation for the “long game.”

The cost of capital in building infrastructure is a lot cheaper for municipalities than for private, for-profit service providers, Perlitz said. Municipalities do not need high margins to pay off investors and aim to operate a zero-sum game with no profits.

Nonprofits are good recipients of grants, he added, claiming that the government should consider how they can motivate a municipality to enter into the internet.

Many experts claim that a utility-based broadband model is the only solution to bridge the digital divide, claiming that utilities understand how to operate large infrastructure projects that connect hundreds of homes and have core internal communication capabilities.

Capping the number of providers could solve price war problems, one telecom exec said.




WASHINGTON, July 19, 2023 – Open access network operators should limit the number of ISPs on their network to avoid price wars and poor customer experience, said panelists at a Fiber Broadband Association event Tuesday.

In an open access network, broadband infrastructure is owned by one entity, which can be a network operator or a municipality or other form of cooperative governance. The network operator leases the infrastructure to internet service providers.

Gabe Gomez, vice president of customer experience at ISP Syringa networks, said that Syringa chose to operate on an open access network due to the network’s policy that limited the number of ISPs and maintained a strong vetting process for those providers.

The potential take rate in a network is higher when the network operator limits the number of ISPs on the network, said Gomez. Having too many providers makes it difficult to get the market share and investment an ISP needs to provide a good experience to the customer, he continued.

“If you have too many ISPs, some will lose,” he added, and customers will end up paying for it with bad experiences and poor customer support.

Although an open access model is considered the “gold standard” by some network operators, including Utah-based UTOPIA Fiber, some commentors are concerned that the model will reduce ISPs to price-war strategies to eliminate competition and retain market share.

According to Gomez, limiting providers is a sustainable solution to price gauging concerns.

Chief Marketing Officer at UTOPIA Fiber Kim McKinley told Broadband Breakfast that its network, however, does not have price gouging concerns, stating that the company views both provider and end user as its customers and does what it can to protect each.

UTOPIA Fiber hosts 18 ISPs on its residential network competing for customers. Although hosting many providers on a single network does not work for small communities, the model is successful in UTOPIA’s cities and it supports small local ISPs while providing variety to the end users, said McKinley.

Furthermore, UTOPIA’s model gives small and local providers a shot to compete with the larger companies they otherwise would not have been able to compete with, she added.

George Templeman, president of network access partnerships at open access network operator SiFi Networks, said that the open access model provides customers with access for a diverse choice in ISPs that provide high-quality service.

The model is cost effective, environmentally friendly, and provides customers with the best experience, Templeman said, touting one-time builds and sustainable fiber infrastructure.

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