Dealing with today’s FTTH material shortages in the UK


A variety of product supply issues are having a marked effect on fibre rollouts in the UK. At the same time, there is a need to significantly reduce the time and cost involved in developing and deploying fibre networks… Aginode would like to share some insights into overcoming obstacles and ensuring continuity of the supply chain – and suggest where we can help.

A closer look at the main developments

A global shortage of fibre optic cables, components, and accessories is affecting shipments to Europe from China and India. Furthermore, long transit times and multiple handling points increase the risk to the FTTH product supply chain. Importing technology products often involves navigating complex customs regulations and compliance requirements and can be subject to anti-dumping legislation. An anti-dumping law is any domestic law designed to prevent a country’s trading partners from “dumping” goods into domestic markets at any price that is less than fair. That means goods could have additional costs applied to them by governments at any time as we have recently seen. Furthermore, geopolitical tensions and conflicts can severely disrupt supply chains.

The crisis in the Red Sea and Suez Canal is significantly impacting shipping and the delivery of goods to the UK. The situation, characterized by attacks on commercial shipping vessels has led to a marked decrease in shipping through the Red Sea as ships are forced to go around the cape. At the time of writing, 80% of shipping coming through the Suez Canal is being turned around. This has had a cascading effect on global trade, including the UK.

 Major consequences are the significant increase in shipping times and costs. Long-distance shipping can introduce real vulnerabilities. Extended transit times, caused by rerouting and global trade bottlenecks, can lead to significant delays in the delivery of FTTH products. This is affecting project timelines for broadband infrastructure deployment. At the moment there’s no clear indication of how long the current situation with Suez and China – and other mounting global tensions – will last. Once an issue settled, something else may crop up.

What should you expect from a supplier – and how we can help

Numerous issues can be avoided by not shipping materials from affected regions, and by avoiding the Suez Canal. Furthermore, supply chains need to be monitored and managed very closely. As a Western European manufacturer with ample experience in the UK and EU markets gives us distinct advantages in helping solve this.  We have EU based manufacturing plants such as Opticable (Belgium), Moenchengladbach (Germany), Fumay (Northern France), Lamia (Greece), and Nouaceur (Morocco) – meaning we are not dependent on shipping from overseas. Being able to deliver faster than other manufacturers/suppliers impacted by the situation helps safeguard your business planning, investments, and essential time-to-revenue.

 Today’s FTTH projects have more diverse product requirements than ever, due the enormous variety in technology choices, legacy installations, and business models. But if you want to get a non-standard product made in Asia, for example, shipping may take 3 or 4 months. However, we can manufacture and ship something bespoke in a couple of weeks. Shipping from Belgium is as fast as shipping within the UK.

Longer shipping routes not only increase fuel consumption but also raise environmental concerns. This might be particularly relevant for companies aiming to maintain sustainable supply chains and comply with CSRD (the new EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive). There’s obviously a huge carbon footprint benefit if distances to be travelled are shorter. What’s more, CSRD requires you to report and audit your whole supply chain. How many overseas suppliers – either private or state-owned – have a fully transparent supply chain and documentation to match? How many are easily accessible and can be visited rapidly and cost-effectively? The supply chain does not stop at the point where the distributor has sold you your goods. When CSRD supply chain audits take place, more is examined than your carbon footprint alone. With Aginode, you know you’re safe. Equality of working and anti-slavery practices, for example, are well-documented as part of our own supply chain processes.

If a distributor receives a shipment of faulty goods, you won’t want to receive replacement items from the same batch. If these goods came from far away, you’ll have to wait for a shipment of newly manufactured goods – which can take months. Time-saving options such as sending emergency replacements by air often wouldn’t be feasible. Should you need something sooner rather than later, we have a very quick turnaround in manufacturing. You raise a PO, and we can produce and send goods to the UK to meet your requirements.

Benefits of customer proximity

In FTTH projects, customer proximity is key. This makes it possible to better understand the specific needs, preferences, and challenges of each local market. This insight can guide the customization of products and solutions to meet the unique requirements of different regions, enhancing customer satisfaction and product relevance. It’s also possible to quickly adapt to changing market conditions, regulatory environments, and technological advancements, and offer quicker, more efficient support and maintenance services. Geographical proximity to the project site helps optimise the supply chain and reduce transportation times and costs, ensure timely delivery of equipment and materials, and minimise the risk of project delays.

 That’s why we go above and beyond. Customers are always welcome to visit our factories and work with our engineers to customise products and tailor them to their needs. We operate in different countries and have had great historical successes with different approaches, so we can bring skills and knowledge from many different real-world projects, some of which are ahead of the curve compared to many UK builds. We can discuss different network build options openly, understand or predict issues and suggest new, smarter ways of working.

If you have questions or (urgent) issues, you definitely won’t want to speak to a third party who then must contact the manufacturer – possibly on another continent – and wait for a reply. Should there ever be an issue, you can get hold of us right away and we can be on site within 24 hours.  We have local facilities and service staff on the ground in different countries, so we can visit customer locations and projects, at any time, and offer tailor-made advice based on technology preferences and business cases.

Faster, more flexible deliveries with guaranteed quality and reliability

Being close to customers – figuratively and literally – is essential for FTTH equipment manufacturers suppliers and providers as it enhances understanding of local needs, improves service and support, optimizes supply chain operations, fosters strong relationships, and helps market agility and compliance with local regulations.

As a western European manufacturer, we can not only overcome many of the supply chain obstacles facing many of our international competitors, but also provide a customer focussed experience to ensure you get the right solutions tailored to your needs when you need them.


Mr. Barrie Powell – Senior sales manager Aginode UK

About the author:

Barrie Powell joined Aginode, formerly Nexans in 2015 as the Sales Manager for Telecoms Markets in the UK. He started in Telecoms in 1997 gaining experience in copper and optical solutions and holds a diploma in Telecommunications Infrastructure.

Today he continues his role as the Senior Sales Manager in the UK, supporting our continual growth plans.

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