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Fiber optics is a rapidly growing multi-billion-dollar industry and Clearfield has a strong competitive position as 5G and NG-PON2 technologies are being rolled out. Clearfield provides fiber protection, fiber management and fiber delivery solutions that enable rapid and cost-effective fiber-fed deployment throughout the broadband service provider space. Telecom Review recently visited with Kevin Morgan to get insight into the growth of the fiber broadband marketplace.

Kevin Morgan is Chief Marketing Officer at Clearfield and joined the company August, 2016. Morgan has served in various senior marketing positions since 1996 at ADTRAN, Inc. where he gained extensive experience in advanced communications technology, fiber optic systems, and business product marketing. Before that, he spent nearly a decade at telephone operating company BellSouth, now a part of AT&T, where he worked as the lead product evaluations resource of broadband technologies in the Science & Technology department.

Fiber Broadband Association

Kevin was elected as the new Chair of the Board for the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) for a one-year term that begins on January 1, 2022. Morgan steps into the role as the industry looks to leverage the historic federal and state funding for broadband infrastructure investment, demonstrating a clear market focus on connecting every American to the possibilities created by fiber.

“Kevin’s continued leadership, insights and perspective will be invaluable to the FBA Board and our members as we look to help the industry create digital parity for everyone, no matter where they live,” said Gary Bolton, Fiber Broadband Association’s President and CEO. “Kevin is a clear champion of the fiber industry. We are fortunate to have him as Chairman for the coming year.”

Morgan steps into his role with plenty of experience having served 2019 and 2015 Board Chair. He was first elected to the FBA’s Board in 2011 and has served on the board every year since, holding positions such as Chairman, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer. In his 30-year career, he has gained extensive experience in advanced communications technology, fiber optic systems and business product marketing.

“The FBA is the voice of the fiber broadband industry and as chair, I will focus on amplifying its message about the economic and social impact fiber can have on communities and people,” said Morgan. “Clearfield’s work helping operators leverage federal funds for network growth along with time spent simplifying fiber deployments for community broadband providers gives me a unique perspective that I look forward to bringing as the FBA Board Chair.”

Growth

Clearfield has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Finnish company Nestor Cables Oy (“Nestor”), a leading developer and manufacturer of fiber optic cable solutions. The pending acquisition follows a long-standing, synergistic relationship between Clearfield and Nestor, who have worked together for over a decade. The acquisition is expected to be accretive to Clearfield earnings.

Nestor was founded in 2007 in Oulu, Finland, by cable technology professionals. Its product portfolio includes fiber optic cables, connectivity accessories for fiber optic networks and instrumentation, and the Nestor Optimus product family for micro duct networks. Nestor offers its customers complete solutions for fiber optic networks, including fiber to the home (FTTH) and fiber to the premises (FTTP) applications.

Since 2012, Nestor has supplied fiber optic cables for Clearfield’s high-quality FieldShield product line. This strategic acquisition will enable Clearfield to vertically integrate the supply of its fiber optic cables to meet future customer demand. Furthermore, Clearfield anticipates leveraging the deep technical expertise of the Nestor team, who have decades of optical experience, to extend the available supply of FieldShield fiber into the North American market. Clearfield expects to open optical fiber production in its Mexico facility and begin production of optical cable in North America in early calendar year 2023.

Concurrently, Nestor will continue to service all of its existing customers throughout Finland and other European countries. Clearfield is excited to bring its fiber management solutions to Nestor’s customers and prospects in the European market. In 2021, Nestor generated EUR €31.7 million in revenue under Finnish Accounting Standards.

FastPass

Community broadband operators can reap significant benefits in ramping Homes Passed deployment plans based on market demand and competitive market forces. The FastPass approach utilizing in-cassette splicing significantly reduces Fiber Distribution Hub (FDH) cabinet costs and speeds installation times allowing for double the number of fiber homes passed in the same amount of time versus legacy install methods. These time savings benefit any operator required to meet strict deployment deadline requirements associated with federal and state broadband funding programs.

“The need to reduce the time required for fiber homes passed is becoming mission critical for broadband providers across the country,” said Jeff Heynen, Vice President, Broadband Access and Home Networking at Dell’Oro Group. “Fiber deployments are a land grab right now and whoever gets to the consumer first wins. Clearfield’s FastPass approach challenges the status quo of FDH cabinet installation methods and provides a way for broadband operators to jump to the front of the line for their customers.”

“As fiber broadband deployments rise with federal infrastructure funding, the ability to deploy fiber faster, and at a lower cost, is a clear competitive advantage for any operator,” said Kevin. Industry observers predict more homes will be passed with fiber in the next five years than has been deployed to date, and Clearfield is committed to helping our customers deploy fiber first as they enter new markets, start new builds, and look to close the digital divide for everyone.”

Splicing within the Clearview Cassette is unique: the splicing function is not performed on a separate splice tray but is contained on the cassette itself. The cassette can be easily removed from the cabinet and travel whatever distance is required to reach the splice trailer. The splicing operation remains the same, it’s just performed on the cassette rather than on a separate tray. This eliminates the need for the cable stub, splice trays, the splice closure and the vault needed to store the splice closure and cable stub slack, saving more than $1,000 per FDH cabinet deployed.

Nestor has a strong market position in Finland as a supplier of optical fiber cabling. The company also exports many of its products to the European continent, accounting for approximately 30% of its annual revenues. Nestor operates two production facilities and has customers in more than 50 countries.

Strategic Roadmap

Kevin told us that they are continuing to innovate their product lines and that is evidenced by their recent fiber pedestal announcement.

The CraftSmart® FiberFirst Pedestal is the industry’s first pedestal designed to support fiber-only deployments. Deployable in any outdoor environment, and ideal for operators looking to deploy broadband in rural markets, the pedestal delivers the most cost-effective, non-metallic enclosure in the industry, delivering a solution that exceeds industry standards for strength, reliability, and environmental concerns.

“Delivering products such as the FiberFirst Pedestal is part of our ongoing strategy to own and control our manufacturing and supply chain so we can ensure our customers have the products they need, when they need them, to take fiber further,” said Johnny Hill, Chief Operating Officer of Clearfield. “Having craft-friendly, universally deployable fiber management solutions for any environment, is a necessity given the increasing importance placed on faster, more streamlined installation required by federal and state funding programs. The FiberFirst Pedestal is designed with this in mind—to save time and money while speeding time-to-revenue.”

“Our pedestal solution has been designed to optimize the deployment of Clearfield fiber management solutions,” said Kevin. “Customers will continue to require domed pedestal solutions for the extra protection provided for applications such as the co-location of services and we look forward to providing those solutions from our supplier partners long into the future.”

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