The news: AT&T says that supply-chain shortages will delay fiber construction to about 500,000 homes that it originally planned to wire up this year, per Ars Technica.
- AT&T had plans to wire three million homes this year, but will only be able to complete 2.5 million.
- It warned that shortages are likely to impact other companies that purchase fiber.
More on this: Similar to how the global semiconductor shortage has disrupted and delayed progress in various industries, the fiber shortage might cause US infrastructure expansion to grind to a halt, especially in rural areas that need it the most.
- AT&T is the largest fiber buyer in the country and says that it has access to the best and most competitive prices in the industry, as a preferred buyer. It is expanding its fiber networks in about 90 metro areas, with new locations in close proximity to existing AT&T fiber installations.
- The US Senate recently passed a $1 trillion infrastructure package that included $65 billion to improve the country’s broadband system. Ongoing component shortages could impact that bill’s projected 5-year plan.
- Smaller internet providers are also already feeling the pinch of the fiber shortage. The National Rural Broadband Association said that providers can’t get 30 to 40% of the needed equipment to install broadband. This includes new fiber, which ISPs are waiting up to 71 weeks to be delivered.
What's next? Various industries are starting to feel the squeeze of pandemic-related shortages. These are expected to continue well into the next year, and will result in delayed rollout and deployment of fiber-based broadband internet and 5G networks.