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ICT Visionary Q&A with Allen Griser, Chief Commercial Officer, Clearfield

Nov. 27, 2023
Q&A with Clearfield's Chief Commercial Officer discussing BEAD, fiber deployment, and edge computing.

Topic: Partner Superpower

What are two superpowers Clearfield offers their provider partners?

Allen: What drives us is the opportunity to 1) reduce the cost of fiber deployment and 2) to increase the speed of fiber deployment. Using our in-cassette splicing within our fiber distribution hub (FDH) cabinets, we can do both—lower the cost and increase the speed. We call this our FastPass™ method and using it can double the rate of homes passed compared with legacy methods. And with FastPass Connect, we use our superpowers by using our FieldShield pushable fiber utilizing the deploy reels for connecting homes. Studies show a time savings of over 30% for installation technicians connecting the home with fiber.

Topic: The Future

What emerging or disruptive broadband technology excites you the most? Why?

Allen: Today, businesses around the world routinely utilize Software as a Service (SaaS) over cloud-based computing that runs over fiber connections to data centers. But a technology ready to improve on that is Edge Computing. Together with a full fiber network, Edge Computing places the processing power of a data center closer to the originator of the data at the edge of the network. Moving this compute power as close to the user as possible creates new demand for fiber-rich active cabinets that can aggregate processors.

Topic: Your Beef with BEAD

BEAD funding is flowing. What is your greatest concern about BEAD?

Allen: The concept of providing high-speed broadband preferably over fiber optic lines to the remaining unserved and underserved in the country is a great goal. Now it’s about execution and when it comes to using the $42.45B of BEAD money to meet that goal, our industry is hamstrung with a hurry up and wait approach. The rules are in place but the industry likely won’t see meaningful dollars hitting the street for building fiber networks until late 2024 or early 2025. Our beef is that these rules place too much emphasis on the blanket requirement to build these products in America. Rather than worrying about the percentage of cost for products built in America, we should focus on the parts of the product line that best utilize American know-how and ingenuity.

Topic: Change Management and Culture

What have you learned about culture and change management as Clearfield continues to grow?

Allen: Between a tight labor market and the evolving needs of a changing workforce, leaders today need more than just good pay and flexibility to keep and retain strong teams—they need to dedicate time and effort to master the art of listening. Leaders who listen with empathy can respond in a way that matters, making team members more willing to share on a deeper, more authentic level. Listening to everyone also builds a culture of trust. Listening is the foundation for good leadership. It allows us to be more sensitive to employee needs and build better relationships, but it also allows us to weed out problems and solve them faster. Listening leaders create structures that demonstrate their desire to hear everyone’s voices and work to ensure everyone understands the value of listening. They model positive listening skills and inspire and empower others to embrace their development, resulting in better decisions at all levels and a more resilient organization.