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Gov Approve UK Remedies to Tackle China’s Dumping of Optical Fibre

Monday, Oct 23rd, 2023 (4:51 pm) - Score 3,912
fibre optic cable bright

The government has today adopted new measures, as recommended by the Trade Remedies Authority (TRA), to protect the UK’s growing optical fibre cables industry – worth around £88m to the economy – from unfair trading practices from China. As a result, imports will now face new anti-dumping and countervailing measures.

Fibre optic cables transmit data using light and come in all sorts of different sizes and designs. Some are used in the UK to help bring gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband ISP networks closer to homes, while others are used for core network connectivity, subsea links or high-capacity Ethernet connections (leased lines) for businesses and backhaul etc.

NOTE: c.5.7 million fibre kilometres of optical fibre cable was sold in the UK in 2021, including UK producer sales and imported goods, and the domestic market is expected to grow. UK-produced fibre accounts for around half of all UK consumption, with the rest supplied by imports.

The cables themselves are fairly cheap, at least when compared with legacy copper lines, but they still attract a fair cost when deployed at scale – something a lot of networks operators are currently doing. Such cables can be purchased from various UK and European suppliers (e.g. Emtelle, Hexatronic, Prysmian etc.), but they can also be imported from China, India, the US, Poland and Germany.

In 2022 we revealed that a complaint by Prysmian Cables & Systems Limited had prompted the TRA to open two investigations into imports of single-mode optical fibre cables from China. The first (AD0021) was an anti-dumping investigation to determine whether imports of these products are being dumped in the UK at prices below what they would sell for in their home country.

The second (AS0022) was an anti-subsidy investigation to determine whether the Chinese imports entering the UK market are also benefiting from subsidies which lower their production costs. The TRA ultimately found (here) that such imports and dumping were already causing “damage to the UK industry” and revealed “clear evidence of price undercutting”, but they left the final decision up to the government.

The government has today formally moved to “protect the UK industry” by introducing new “trade remedy measures“, such as new anti-dumping duties that range from 23% to 46.2%, and the new countervailing duties rates range from 10.62% and 11.79%. But it’s worth noting that not all government subsidies are countervailable (can be countered using trade remedies).

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Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
19 Responses
  1. Avatar photo John says:

    They should’ve done the same with solar panels and wind turbines ages ago

  2. Avatar photo Hughie says:

    It’s not just about the price… More importantly, the quality needs to be checked too.

  3. Avatar photo Oliver says:

    UK once stood to be a world leader in fibre optics (alongside Japan) back in the 80s but thatcher abolished the plan for BT to adopt a fibre network and all the machinery was sold off. It all could have been so different.

    1. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      Not this story again… BT said it would only deploy fibre to homes if it was allowed to run TV services over it, BT were told no (the had a ban on using their infrastructure for TV to encourage competition) and that was the end of that. I don’t believe this decision was under Thatcher’s government either.

    2. Avatar photo Roger Thomas says:

      BT wanted a monopoly for all communications to all UK homes forever. So we would all have 1980’s fibered homes by now using 1980’s standards at 1980’s prices and BT would have no reason to upgrade any of us at a fair price.

    3. Avatar photo Dave Webster says:

      Nothing wrong with 80’s fibre plenty of it still running backhaul to this day.
      And Thatcher said no to the funding. (Full .)
      Its a shame my dad’s best friend was looking at this at the time inside BT and the scope of things this would have enabled was massive. They already had video terminals ready to go in early 80’s.

    4. Avatar photo Clive peters says:

      So why did no other country in the world do FTTH in the eighties? The lasers alone were prohibitively expensive

  4. Avatar photo Dan says:

    This is a disappointing decision that runs against British consumer interests. We don’t manufacture any fibre optic cable in the UK and are unlikely to start now given our sky high energy costs. So input costs for ISPs have been increased for the sectional gain of non-Chinese manufacturers. Those costs will only be passed on to end users. Will these “remedies” change Chinese government behaviour?

    Or have we now needlessly increased fibre costs in perpetuity?

    1. Avatar photo Josh says:

      “UK-produced fibre accounts for around half of all UK consumption, with the rest supplied by imports”

      This from the article above would suggest we do have UK manufacturers.

    2. Avatar photo Harry says:

      And what happens in a few years time when the capability and knowledge how to manufacture is lost? Do prices stay cheap in a monopoly?
      Could the sales or prices of critical infrastructure be used as a tool against people or countries that are seen to not be friendly?

      If it was free and fair competition then fine, but a government using subsidies to snuff out competition for their own benefit in the future isn’t free or fair

      Choice, capability and fair competition is far more important!

    3. Avatar photo Roger Thomas says:

      TRATOS Ltd, will be surprised to hear that no one produces fiber in the UK as will the UK government which awarded them a “Queen’s Award for Enterprise” back in 2019 for basically doing just that.

    4. Avatar photo Justin says:

      There are UK based manufacturing plants such as Prysmian in Wrexham and AFL (Fujikura) in Swindon as well as companies that purchase fibre strand and then manufacture multicore cables, such as Emtelle in Jedburgh. There are also European manufacturers such as Accome who have a factory in Normandy. Plus of course North American manufacturers such as Corning. So, no we need not be dependent on China.

    5. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

      @Justin, I should have read your post before posting mine, You answered part of my question of producing fibre in the U.K.

  5. Avatar photo Jan says:

    Great content but the adverts are a bit intrusive.

    1. Avatar photo Dave Webster says:

      Sorry what’s that comment can’t see it for this annoying video and that’s playing over half the screen.

    2. Avatar photo Oliver says:

      What adverts?

  6. Avatar photo Dave Webster says:

    So is Germany and Poland not in the “European” area then?

    1. Avatar photo Name says:

      That was my impression too 😀

  7. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    I do agree that we need to stop the cheap Chinese fibre, but are we producing fibre in the U.K? Zzoomm uses Hexatronic which is a Swedish company and even then is the fibre produced in Sweden or China?
    This is the problem these days, difficult to know what is produced where.

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