Fiber optic cables are also in short supply. Europe is affected by this new problem

Fiber optic cables are also in short supply.  Europe is affected by this new problem


As Internet access increases and society moves towards digital transformation, technology companies and governments are looking to improve and expand connectivity to drive technological development in various fields. A key element of this expansion is fiber opticsand now it is in short supply, although the difficulty of getting it is greater for some than for others.

According to the Financial Times, this problem is directly related to the lack of some critical elements for fiber optic cable manufacturing, such as: helium and silicon tetrachloride. In this scenario, when one of these elements is achieved, it happens at a much higher price than normal, so the final price of the product increases and it remains accessible to actors with greater economic power.

From the shortage of chips to fiber optics

Supply chains are going through complex times. Barely emerging from the chip shortage that has caused difficulties in purchasing some devices such as computers, cars and video game consoles, we already see a new problem on the horizon, this time one that can affect communication infrastructures more modern, such as the rollout of 5G nets.

Fiberglass is present almost everywhere today. Not only in households with high-speed Internet access, but also in data centers, telecommunications hubs and intercontinental submarine cables, to name just a few. This technology is widely used because it allows data transmission over long distances, offers high bandwidth and is immune to electromagnetic interference.

According to Cru Group, a market analysis firm cited by the Financial Times, helium, which is a key component in the manufacture of glass filaments that are part of fiber optic cables, has increased by 135% in the last two years due to production stoppages at plants in the United States and Russia. silicon tetrachloride, another key element, has increased by up to 50%.


However, according to Wendell Weeks, managing director of the world’s largest fiber optic cable manufacturer Corning, this situation is having a greater impact in some regions of the world. The hardest hit are Europe, China and Indiawhile in the United States prices have risen less.

But there is more. The context of scarcity does not disappear. According to the American newspaper, companies have now started to prioritize orders. Thus, the most important customers, i.e. the big technology companies, are the first to receive this crucial element for their development. Meanwhile, smaller customers are suffering Delays from weeks to almost a year to receive your orders.

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This combination of factors could cause many communications infrastructure projects to be delayed and even not meet their targets, according to Cru Group, which “could have an impact on global connectivity.”

Images | Patrick Turner (Unsplash)

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