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Remarks of April McClain-Delaney: Building America’s Internet Infrastructure in America

Prysmian’s Commitment to Domestic Manufacturing and Job Creation
Prysmian Group
Remarks of April McClain-Delaney
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information
National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
Prysmian Manufacturing Facility
Jackson, Tenn.
June 29, 2023
As prepared for delivery

Building America’s Internet Infrastructure in America

Thank you, Andrea. It was an honor to be with you and Patrick at the White House this week to hear the President announce the allocations. It was even better to see Prysmian fiber on stage next to him and the Vice President. 

I am sorry to hear about your postponed Ironman Triathlon in my home state of Idaho this past weekend, but hopefully we can have you out there soon. It’s a beautiful place! We have a saying in Idaho, that we are one-in-a-million, because that is just how many of us are there. 

And finally, a big thank you to Pat Jacobi, and the entire Prysmian team for inviting me to this celebration. Congratulations on the success of your ambitious revamp to build high speed fiber optic cable right here in Jackson, Tennessee.

We need facilities like yours now more than ever. We at NTIA are in the midst of a historic mission to connect everyone in America to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service.

Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Biden-Harris Administration has $65 billion dedicated to finally closing the digital divide in this country once and for all. 

And the biggest pot of money – in fact, the largest amount of money the federal government has ever invested in deploying Internet service – is at NTIA. We are delivering more than $48 billion to connect communities everywhere. 

We just announced this week the amounts each state and territory will receive from the $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment, or BEAD, program. That includes $813 million for Tennessee to build future-proof networks to connect everyone in the state.  Let me say that again, “813 million dollars,” that is incredible!  

Whether it’s rural communities in the Great Smoky mountains, Tennessee farms that are a bit too far down the road to get access to a broadband line, or maybe even friends of yours living not too far from Jackson, we all know people that still don’t have the Internet service they need.

Our task is simple, but it’s monumental: we are going to bridge the digital divide. For good. 

That’s the mission of Internet for All.

And we’re already well on our way to accomplishing it.  

But we cannot reach that goal without industry stepping up. That’s where manufacturers like Prysmian come in.

Internet for All is not just a connectivity program – it's a jobs and manufacturing program. Together, we’ll create thousands of jobs nationwide over the life of this effort. 

We’re spending billions of federal dollars in this program. We believe if the infrastructure can be made in America, it should be made in America.

Fiber optic cable is a good example of that. In his State of the Union address, the President specifically called for using American-made fiber optic cable for these broadband infrastructure projects. We’ve seen industry respond by stepping up with new investments and expansions of manufacturing capacities, like the one we are celebrating here today.

Prysmian has not only answered that call, you trained a workforce to do it. This company is an example of what we’d like to see other manufacturers do across the country.

A little more than a year ago, Prysmian announced a $30 million investment to transition this plant from making the copper cables of the past to producing the fiber optic cable of the future. This fiber will form the foundation of the networks that will connect households across America to high-speed Internet service.

Prysmian completed this retooling in record time, and made sure your workers were not left behind. The retraining program allowed Prysmian to keep 90% of workers, who are now producing fiber optic cable.

I am particularly thrilled by Prysmian’s trailblazing work to bridge the gender gap in the telecom workforce. Almost half the workers here are women, well above the national average.

More companies need to follow Prysmian’s lead and invest in training women for these jobs. The jobs our infrastructure funding creates should reflect the communities we will connect. That includes groups that have been traditionally underrepresented in broadband jobs – women and people of color. 

Prysmian is well on its way to achieving that goal. I look forward to further progress as you add more jobs to bring this facility up to full capacity.

Your achievement highlights how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is creating jobs and opportunity in every corner of the country. 

Looking forward, we are the cusp of an incredible moment for America. 

It’s the moment we as a country come together and say we will no longer leave anyone behind.

Everyone deserves to be connected. They deserve to be connected to jobs, to healthcare, to education, and to their families.

Prysmian is enabling those connections, and making it happen with American workers in America.

Thank you for stepping up to meet this moment. Thank you for your work now and in the future to deliver Internet for All.