AFL has officially opened its new fibre optic cable facility in Swindon, Wiltshire, marking the start of commercial production of Fujikura’s Air Blown Wrapping Tube Cable (AB-WTC) using SpiderWeb Ribbon® (SWR®) fibre technology in the UK. AB-WTC is an ultra-high density outside plant cable designed specifically for Fibre-to-the-Home and access network applications. AFL’s new facility in Swindon is the first factory in the UK and Europe to produce this type of fibre optic cable.
This investment in cable production in the UK for its European customers, such as Openreach, AFL will help speed up rollouts of full-fibre broadband in support of the UK government’s target for 85 per cent of UK premises to have access to gigabit-broadband by 2025.
Paul Bennett, General Manager of AFL in Swindon, says the new facility builds on AFL and Fujikura’s presence in the UK and their commitment to delivering projects in Europe.
Paul explains, “This new cable technology allows us to manufacture high fibre count, high-density fibre optic cables that are much quicker to install than conventional fibre optic cables. This technology is an exciting innovation in the industry; we are delighted that we will now be producing it in the UK, at our Swindon plant, where we have a strong, skilled workforce, and long manufacturing history. AFL’s further investment in Swindon is not only significant for network rollouts and upgrades but because we’ve added state-of-the-art equipment, also enables us to increase cable production.”
Fibre optic cables produced in the facility on Radway Road will be supplied to major UK and European network infrastructure projects that AFL and Fujikura customers are building. Fujikura’s investment in the facility will create new jobs in Swindon and the surrounding region including highly skilled engineering roles.
Fujikura is a world leader in the production of fibre optic cables and associated equipment for installation, measurement and testing. It is synonymous with fibre optic fusion splicers and has been operating in Europe for more than 30 years.
At the official opening ceremony, guests were welcomed by Paul Bennett and given a tour of the new facility. Guests were also addressed by Masahiko Ito, President and CEO of Fujikura Ltd. and Jody Gallagher, President and CEO of AFL. In attendance were H.E. Mr. Hajime Hayashi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary from the Embassy of Japan in the UK, senior representatives of Openreach, and the Mayor of Swindon, Councillor Garry Perkins.
Jody Gallagher, also a Director on Fujikura Limited’s Board, commented, “The introduction of Fujikura’s new fibre optic cable technology in Swindon comes at a key point in the rollout of full-fibre broadband in the UK. Network operators and engineers have been making fantastic progress on projects to upgrade the network infrastructure and its capability–something which has become ever more important as the demand and need for fast, reliable connectivity increases with remote working and remote education. With our new plant in Swindon, we are able to improve the reliability of supply of fibre optic cables to customers and provide even greater customer service.”
Openreach, a communications provider, has been installing fibre optic cabling supplied by Fujikura since 2019. Speaking of the importance of the new plant to its rollout of 1Gbps FTTP (Fibre to the Premises), Andy Whale, Managing Director and Chief Engineer of Openreach said, “Our £15 billion network upgrade is hugely important because research shows that nationwide full-fibre broadband could add £59 billion to the economy every year, help level-up the UK, and bring around one million people back into work.
“At Openreach, we intend to build the furthest, fastest and to the highest quality of any network builder in the UK, and to do that we’re forming strong partnerships with innovative companies like AFL and Fujikura.
“We’re already investing heavily in the South West where 3,400 Openreach people live and work and we’re delighted our investment now extends to supporting local jobs and growth in our supply chain.”
Image source: Courtesy of AFL
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