RALEIGH – The Biden Administration touted its broadband funding announced Friday (including $1.5 billion for North Carolina) as the reason for the creation of new jobs in the broadband industry, including two projects in N.C.

“For example, anticipating this major investment in high-speed internet infrastructure deployment, earlier this year, fiber optic cable manufacturers CommScope and Corning announced $47 million and $500 million expansions of their domestic manufacturing capacity, which will create hundreds of good-paying American jobs in North Carolina'” the White House said in a statement. “These investments are part of the nearly $500 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments spurred by the President’s Investing in America agenda.”

  • Here’s what CommScope, which is based in Hickory, announced in March:

“Commscope is expanding fiber-optic cable production to accelerate the rollout of broadband across the U.S., connecting more communities and underserved areas.

“CommScope’s expansion of U.S. fiber-optic cable production will:

  • Increase fiber-optic cable output, hastening the deployment of broadband to underserved communities; The HeliAR [product] lines are expected to support 500,000 homes per year in fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments.
  • Increase employment opportunities with the addition of at least 250 jobs over the next five years, 90% of which will not require a college degree.
  • Bolster supply chain production in the United States in support of the White House’s initiative to have the supply chain for America begin in America.
  • Introduce a new HeliARC fiber optic cable, specifically designed for the needs of rural deployments.
  • Invest $47 million CapEx in the U.S. toward expanding fiber optic cable production focused on rural applications.

“We are in the business of connectivity. We strive to provide superior solutions to our customers who, in turn, provide connectivity for businesses, individuals and communities. This increase in fiber-optic cable production is a great step forward for our ‘Broadband for Everyone’ program, furthering our commitment to serve the fiber optic cable market,” stated Chuck Treadway, President & CEO, CommScope. “We will produce more cost-effective and easier-to-deploy fiber-optic cable, add new jobs and simultaneously strengthen the supply chain in America. This is a trifecta we are thrilled to announce, and we are particularly pleased to share this news today in the company of Secretary Raimondo and Governor Cooper.”

  • Here’s what Corning announced, also in March:

“Corning Incorporated … opened its newest optical cable manufacturing campus in Hickory, North Carolina. The new manufacturing center will help accelerate U.S. buildouts of high-speed fiber broadband networks and connect the unconnected.

“With the campus’s two new facilities, Corning will help provide U.S. network operators with the cable they need to bring high-speed fiber connectivity to underserved communities, particularly in rural America. These advanced manufacturing facilities will add hundreds of jobs to Corning’s existing North Carolina workforce of more than 5,000. The new campus is part of a series of investments by Corning totaling more than $500 million since 2020, helping to meet growing fiber and cable demand and strong customer commitments.

“With this new manufacturing campus, we’re creating local jobs, we’re helping our workforce build important skills, we’re cultivating our next generation of talent right here in North Carolina, and we’re thrilled to continue addressing demand for the fiber and cable that are so vital to moving the world forward,” said Corning Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wendell P. Weeks. “We appreciate the support of federal, state, local officials, and industry organizations as we come together to help connect the unconnected and to make ‘Internet for All’ a reality.”

“For those of us that are blessed to have clean air and save water, or to have the highest speed internet, you know, we just kind of take it for granted,” said Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to President Biden and his infrastructure coordinator. “Sometimes we forget that a lot of our fellow Americans just don’t [have access].”

New data released earlier this month by the state of North Carolina broke down locations where high-speed net access is lacking. The new funding is based largely on data gathered about internet access by the FCC. In North Carolina, data shows there are wide disparities in the state when it comes to how connected residents are. Wake, Dare and Orange counties have the lowest percentage of residents without access to the internet. It’s about one out of every 20 households in those areas don’t have it.

But in some counties like Northampton, Bertie and Robeson, it’s much more common to not have access – more than one out of every three households there lack connection. Landrieu said the funding will level the playing field for more than 376,000 households across the state.

"One of the biggest parts of this, of course, is making sure that people can participate in modern life," Landrieu said. "And you cannot do this in modern America without having access to the internet."

"When you give them the tools, all of a sudden, diversity is one of this country's greatest strengths, brilliant people who couldn't get connected before, all of a sudden start creating new products, entrepreneurship, innovation," Landrieu said.