DZS CEO talks M&A, fiber funding and the need for 1-Gig broadband

NASHVILLE – Fiber Connect 2022 – DZS CEO Charlie Vogt said service providers can significantly improve their networks and, by extension, their communities, if they deploy as much fiber as possible with the new funds being made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

"We have a unique opportunity to do it right one time," Vogt said, when asked about whether the emphasis on fiber might unintentionally widen the digital divide in some places. "And if service providers commit themselves to delivering fiber to the home, we're only going to do this one time, right."

Vogt said he thinks the minimum requirement for upload and download speeds for many infrastructure legislation programs may be aiming too low.

"We still have a long way to go [for fiber deployment in the US]. But we've got a good start," he said. "And we have the landscape and the construction and the service providers that have the capabilities of delivering fiber to the home. So, for us to be able to deliver at least a minimum of a gigabit of services symmetrical, meaning up and down – that ought to be the baseline."

The Biden administration's nearly $2 trillion infrastructure legislation reserves $65 billion for broadband. The largest piece of that pie is the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, overseen by the NTIA, which will make grants available to states to fund broadband deployment and adoption in unserved and underserved areas.

Vogt said he thinks having the states manage the funds based on their own needs and capabilities will help get broadband to more people, more quickly. "We hope that this time next year, we'll begin to see some of those dollars flow to a lot of our customers," he said.

Here are just a few things covered in this video:

  • Vogt discusses the strategic reasoning behind DZS's acquisition of Assia's assets. (0:50)
  • The broadband infrastructure bill will change the communications industry. (4:34)
  • The minimum requirement for broadband federal funding doesn't match what consumers really need. (08:15)
  • The supply chain issues persist, but the overall economic slowdown could help. (13:35)

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Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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