How to avoid a cable shortage affecting your telecoms build


News of an imminent global shortage of fibre optic cable is worrying for the UK’s telecoms industry, particularly internet service providers that are busy building new networks across our nation. Not only is there the concern of running out of cable supply mid-build, but scarcity of materials is driving up prices too.

Of course, without cables to build new telecoms infrastructure the UK’s nationwide upgrade to 5G networks is in danger of grinding to an abrupt halt. Smaller internet service providers, or altnets, are at risk of being negatively impacted by project delays and soaring costs. It was reported recently that European markets have been particularly affected by shortages, with the cost of fibre rising as much as 70% compared to prices in March 2021[1].

The predicted cable shortage is being driven by the increased cost of materials needed to create fibre optic glass. These include helium and silicon tetrachloride, both key components in the manufacture of fibreglass. Bad news all round, it seems. Yet with the proper support and knowledge of an experienced and well-connected supplier, telecoms companies can avoid disaster.

The shortage of fibre optic cable is likely to reach a crunch point around January 2023, when existing supplies begin drying up. By using accurate forward forecasting, telecoms suppliers can help customers avoid their projects being impacted too badly by the situation. This means looking ahead up to a year in advance when it comes to sourcing and scheduling deliveries of required stock, since product lead times are currently growing all the time.

Additionally, by sourcing fibre optic products from a range of manufacturers across the globe, suppliers are in a more robust position and more likely to continue to be able to fulfil customer orders long-term. For example, the fibreglass shortage is being felt most keenly in Europe, India and China, with the US less badly affected due to its ability to access raw materials.

Since altnets are more likely to be affected by shortages, as manufacturers prioritise larger orders over smaller ones, the importance of working with a good and knowledgeable supplier is of the upmost importance to their future resilience.

Jordan Collins, our Business Development Director, says:

“We are concerned on behalf of all our valued telecoms customers about the impact global shortages of materials could have on their productivity. Our job, as a supplier, is to effectively forecast and pre-empt any potential future issues in terms of accessing products.

“At Altnets we partner with a range of different cable manufacturers, from the UK to Asia and across Europe. Having a range of global manufacturing partners means we have options when it comes to fulfilling customer orders. Our strong relationships with all of our manufacturers help us to stay ahead of the curve regarding potential product shortages, and therefore find solutions as well as communicating honestly and effectively with our customers.”

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