Demand for optical fibre is creating a worldwide shortage with manufacturers scrambling to bring more production capacity on line.
The latest announcement comes from Japanese electronics giant Furukawa Electric, which plans to nearly double its 2016 optical fibre manufacturing capacity by 2019 and to increase its optical cable manufacturing capacity through the operations of OFS, its wholly owned subsidiary.
Between 2014 and 2016, Furukawa Electric increased its global fibre production capacity by 20 per cent and expected to achieve another capacity increase of 20 per cent by 2018. However, to meet the increasing global demand for optical fibre and optical fibre cable, the Furukawa Electric board has approved $150 million additional capital spending for further expansion, primarily in the US and Europe, thereby creating over 400 jobs over the next two years
“The proliferation of hyperscale and edge data centres, 5G wireless, and fibre-to-the-home, along with the greater digitization of communications in business, are creating the need for fibre in the network around the world,” said Timothy F. Murray, head of the global optical fibre and cable business of Furukawa Electric and CEO of OFS. “Furukawa Electric foresees this demand continuing into the next decade with communication traffic estimated to increase during this period.”
OFS is not the only fibre manufacturer stepping up production.
Corning plans to invest more than $250 million to increase its production capacity for optical fibre, cable and related components (see Verizon agrees $1.05 billion fibre deal with Corning). The additional capacity will start to come on line this year and be fully operational by the end of 2018.
Meanwhile Italy-headquartered energy and optical cables manufacturer Prysmian is the middle of a three-year €250 million expansion plan to increase production capacity for fibre and cable (see Prysmian to open new optical cable plants in Eastern Europe).