AFL cuts ribbon on new UK fiber-optic cable manufacturing facility

Nov. 16, 2021
New Swindon UK facility is the first to produce Fujikura’s Air Blown Wrapping Tube Cable (AB-WTC) in Europe, which it will manufacture for fiber-to-the-home and other access network applications across the continent.

AFL, a subsidiary of Fujikura Ltd., Japan, recently held a grand opening ceremony for a new fiber-optic cable manufacturing facility in Swindon, UK.

The facility will produce Fujikura’s Air Blown Wrapping Tube Cable (AB-WTC), which uses the company’s SpiderWeb Ribbon (SWR) fiber. The Swindon facility is the first to produce the AB-WTC in Europe, which it will manufacture for fiber-to-the-home and other access network applications across the continent.

The UK’s Openreach will be among the customers who will benefit from the new facility, which is located on Radway Road.

“Our £15 billion network upgrade is hugely important, because research shows that nationwide full fiber broadband could add £59 billion to the economy every year, help level-up the UK, and bring around 1 million people back into work,” commented Andy Whale, managing director and chief engineer of Openreach. “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," Whale concluded.

Participants in the opening ceremony included Paul Bennett, general manager of AFL in Swindon; Masahiko Ito, president and CEO of Fujikura Ltd.; and Jody Gallagher, president and CEO of AFL. H.E. 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, were among the guests.

“This new cable technology allows us to manufacture high-fiber-count, high-density fiber-optic cables that are much quicker to install than conventional fiber optic cables,” said Bennett in discussing the AB-WTC and Spider Web Ribbon. “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 a 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.”

“The introduction of Fujikura’s new fiber-optic cable technology in Swindon comes at a key point in the rollout of full fiber broadband in the UK,” added Gallagher. “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 fiber-optic cables to customers and provide even greater customer service.”

-- Stephen Hardy, LIGHTWAVE

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