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Severe Fibre Shortage May Hit Australia

On top of the continuing global semiconductor shortage, there is now a severe shortage in fibre supply.

AT&T, the largest fibre purchaser in the US, has been forced to delay fibre construction to half a million home this year, and warns that the shortages will impact all global companies that rely upon fibre.

“Up through the second quarter, we hadn’t really experienced any impact from the supply-chain disruptions that are happening across the industry. But since the start of the third quarter, we are seeing dislocation across the board including in fibre supply,” AT&T Senior Executive VP and CFO Pascal Desroches said yesterday.

“We’re the largest fibre purchaser in the country and we have prices that are the best and most competitive in the industry,” he said. “We feel really good about the ability to secure fibre inventory at attractive price points and the ability to execute the buildout at scale, something that many others don’t have.”

AT&T notes its “preferred place in the supply chain” means it will catch up to its 30 million customer target by 2025, but smaller companies won’t be so lucky.

“We don’t think it’s going to impact us long-term, but I think it’s really important context. If we’re feeling the pain in this, I can only imagine what others in the industry are experiencing,” Desroches said.

A group representing smaller ISP in the US filed a complaint with the FTC that detailed “widespread delays in obtaining communications equipment of all kinds, which extends not only to electronics (such as routers, optical network terminals, and customer premises equipment ‘CPE’) but also fibre.

“The delay appears to have begun soon after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and has escalated since then.”

We have approached NBN Co. for information about whether this will impact its Australian roll out, and will update the story if we hear from them.