The investments in onshore production will strengthen domestic supply chains and add high-tech jobs.

HANOVER, Md.—Ciena®, a U.S.-based networking systems, services, and software company, is adding domestic manufacturing through an expanded agreement with global diversified manufacturer Flex. Ciena is expected to begin production of the industry’s first pluggable optical line terminals (OLTs) and its optical network units (ONU) at a Flex factory in the United States in mid-2024, according to a release from the companies.

Ciena’s investments will support the U.S. government’s Broadband Equity Adoption and Deployment (BEAD) projects, create new jobs, and help broadband service providers comply with the Build America, Buy America (BABA) requirements. They also advance Ciena’s commitment to roll out high-speed broadband to unserved and underserved communities, the company said in the release.

Under the terms of the agreement, Flex will provide advanced manufacturing capabilities, including specialized optical transceiver assembly, and supply chain services. This will enable Ciena to quickly ramp high-volume production of its innovative pluggable OLTs and ONUs at scale.

“As stewards of the digital networks that underpin our lives, we are excited to announce the first U.S.-based manufacture of our unique pluggable optical line terminal (OLT) solution,” said Ciena President and CEO Gary Smith, in a statement. “We take immense pride in advancing American innovation and strengthening domestic supply chains. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the NTIA and Department of Commerce to advance its mission to connect the unconnected and create greater opportunities for all communities.”

This U.S. expansion builds on a 20-year global relationship. As a result of its partnership with Flex, Ciena is positioned to enable U.S. network providers with greater ability to leverage the BEAD program to expand their local footprint and business opportunities, according to the release.

“Our expanded manufacturing agreement with Ciena is a testament to our mutual commitment to provide high-quality, reliable technologies that accelerate the ability to address America’s next-generation broadband deployment needs,” said Flex President of Communications, Enterprise, and Cloud Rod Campbell, in the release. “We appreciate the trust Ciena has placed in Flex through our 20-year partnership and look forward to quickly ramping in-region advanced manufacturing with sustainable practices.”

Ciena has developed what it described as a unique and disruptive pluggable OLT technology that is designed and—through its partnership with Flex—will be manufactured in America. A key enabling technology in next generation broadband deployments, Ciena’s pluggable OLTs are part of a comprehensive broadband portfolio that includes access infrastructure, middle mile networks, and essential software and services, the company said.

Adding to its existing portfolio of innovations that reduce the environmental impact of communication networks, Ciena’s pluggable OLTs are said to greatly increase network sustainability and efficiency by connecting more homes at higher speeds per unit of power and space than competing products. Ciena’s host routing platforms are already 25G ready, future-proofing service provider network investment without the need for hardware replacement and further maximizing sustainable footprint, according to the company.

“At a time when connectivity is the lifeline for education, healthcare, and public safety, Zayo is taking decisive steps to close the digital divide and bring robust connectivity to underserved communities,” said Zayo Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Product Strategy Joel Daly, in the release. “We commend Ciena’s plans to expand local manufacturing and their continued work to accelerate the roll-out of high-speed connectivity for unserved and underserved populations across America.”

Ciena said it will also develop its next-generation 25GS-PON pluggable OLTs and ONUs in the U.S., providing what it called “a seamless evolution path for service providers to build open, modular, and scalable broadband networks.”