Fiber optics plant developing cable that could stretch high-speed internet across the country

CommScope is producing the lightweight cable at a plant in Hickory.
The lightweight cable is designed to reach areas that traditional cable cannot, increasing access to internet.
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:17 PM EDT
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CATAWBA, N.C. (WBTV) - Local and national dignitaries toured a fiber optics plant in Catawba on Wednesday morning.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Gov. Roy Cooper were among the group that toured the plant, which could be on the verge of changing everything for those struggling to find internet access.

CommScope is producing a new fiber-optic cable that will be able to reach homes that are currently beyond what traditional cable can get to. The company is investing over half a billion dollars and will create hundreds of new jobs to make this happen.

In addition, President Joe Biden wants to invest $50 billion in the “Internet For All” project that would bring internet to even the most remote areas.

Lauren Hou works at the main library in Lincolnton. She said it’s not unusual to see kids in the parking lot working on homework late at night.

“There are definitely kids who show up with their parents to do their schoolwork,” Hou said.

The library leaves the Wi-Fi on well after closing to give those who need it access to the internet.

Jennifer Wood bought her house before realizing there was no way to get internet to her home. That’s problematic because she homeschools her kids and without connectivity, that’s a tall order.

“We needed access to high-speed so we could watch videos and help them with their education,” she said.

One of the more popular tools that can be checked out from the library are internet hotspots, which can at least fill in the gaps.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” Rick Johnsen said. “We still have a lot of homes that still need to be connected.”

Gov. Cooper said the project won’t just help mothers like Wood, but it’ll also bolster global business.

“To connect these small businesses to global markets, it’s exciting what’s happening here,” he said.

While the excitement for the project is red hot, people at the event said it could be the close to a decade before the goal is hit.

Related: Residents still waiting after grant promises much-needed internet access to parts of Burke County

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the plant was located in Hickory. It is located in Catawba.