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Taihan Fiberoptics employs tailored Korean expertise to drive innovation in the 5G markets of Europe and the United States.

Interview - September 14, 2023

Taihan Fiberoptics, a South Korean industry leader since 1974, has consistently dominated the optical fiber and cable market. With a focus on innovation and sustainability, the company is now poised to conquer the 5G markets in the United States and Europe, shaping the future of telecommunications.


As South Korea's industry expands its role as a leading global player in vital sectors such as semiconductors and cutting-edge machinery, there are concerns that the nation might find itself caught between new manufacturing giants and well-established ones, or encounter challenges in forging a supply chain that relies less on overseas technology. What is your broader analysis of South Korea's industrial strengths?

South Korea stands as a technological powerhouse, serving as a global key player in a variety of manufacturing and IT-focused areas. In particular, the nation's technological prowess in semiconductors, display technology, and household appliances has become a major driving force behind its economic advancement. The competitive edge of South Korea's industries, namely its strong points, can be encapsulated in two primary aspects: the nation's remarkable human capital and its rapid market adaptability.
The First, South Korea boasts impressive human capital. Recognizing its scarcity of natural resources, South Korea has prioritized education and human capital development from the early stages, fostering a workforce adept in various fields as a result of swift economic progress. Corporations have leveraged this valuable human capital to persistently explore new technologies, further reinforcing one of South Korea's industrial strengths: the continuous growth of skilled human resources.
The second strength lies in South Korea's swift adaptability to market changes. South Koreans are known for their readiness to embrace and adapt to change promptly. An illustration of this is South Korea's achievement in becoming the world's first nation to successfully commercialize and introduce 5G technology in 2015. This accomplishment can be attributed to South Korea's advanced telecommunications infrastructure, high internet penetration rate, and the digital savvy of its consumers. Such attributes have rendered South Korea's domestic market highly receptive to change and adaptable to new conditions. Consequently, South Korea's industries have utilized this dynamism to not only keep pace with the evolving global market but also to emerge as a trendsetter.
Taihan Fiberoptics, a prime example of a South Korean company excelling in human capital and competitive technology, was established in 1974. Since then, it has consistently maintained the top market share in South Korea's optical fiber and cable market for telecommunications - a market where innovation is paramount for survival. Employing a talented pool of researchers and engineers, the firm regards their expertise and unwavering commitment to technological progress as fundamental to its sustained growth.

South Korea, being the pioneer in commercializing 5G technology, has spawned a fiercely competitive market related to this innovation. What are the distinctive strengths that have allowed Taihan Fiberoptics to secure the leading market share within South Korea? How might these strengths be leveraged for growth on the global stage?
The success of Taihan Fiberoptics can be attributed to its strategy of Vertical Integration in the manufacturing process, enabling us to craft tailored products that fit various market conditions. Coupled with this, we provide a full suite of operational services and solutions that cover the entire spectrum of building and maintaining communication networks.
Founded in 1974, Taihan Fiberoptics has a rich history spanning 49 years, during which we have perfected the design and production of quality materials, optical fibers, optical cables, and connectivity solutions. By overseeing the entire in-house manufacturing process, from raw materials to finished cables, we’ve established a system of Vertical Integration. This approach allows for a diversified and all-encompassing service range, including network design and installation. The result is a seamless alignment in product manufacturing that guarantees a reliable supply of customer-tailored products, backed by comprehensive solutions that provide full control over the projects.
In a market where many Asian competitors are opting for low-cost strategies, the competition in the optical fiber and optical cable sector is becoming increasingly aggressive. Nevertheless, Taihan Fiberoptics has strategically chosen to distinguish itself through a commitment to sustained service quality rather than merely competing on price. Our exceptional in-house technology and ‘Vertical Integration’ empower us to deliver customized products that meet customer requirements, coupled with guaranteed stability in delivery.
Our expertise goes beyond just product supply; we’re well-positioned to cater to emerging economies with significant communication infrastructure needs. These markets often require not just products but complete solutions that encompass design and operation. Through our Vertical Integration and comprehensive operational services, we can satisfy these complex requirements, setting ourselves apart from competitors with a unique competitive edge.
These multifaceted strengths have enabled us to carve out a successful approach in the global optical fiber and optical cable market. The company stands as a testament to innovation, adaptability, and a customer-focused approach, marking our status as a key global player in the field.

Taihan Fiberoptics, an influential player in the global market, has expanded its reach by establishing various international subsidiaries and branches. Beyond their joint venture with OPTRAL, they have launched operations in France, the United States, Singapore, and have even engaged in numerous international endeavors, such as building an FTTH network in Kuwait. So, where's next in terms of global expansion?
As the company with the largest share of optical fibers and cables in the South Korean market, which commercialized 5G for the first time worldwide, we currently focus on being a leading entity in the U.S. and European 5G markets.
The company’s first order of business is conquering the 5G markets in the United States and Europe. As a leader in optical fibers and cables in South Korea, where 5G was first introduced, we’ve positioned ourselves to become a top contender in these regions. The U.S. market alone represents nearly 15% of the worldwide market (source: CRU, 2023), and we seized this opportunity by opening a U.S. subsidiary in 2014. The United States recent rural digital opportunity fund project known as BEAD showcases us still there are opportunities left for us to penetrate the US market. This focus on rapid optical cable deployment, and a keen interest in compact High-count fiber cables, aligns with our development of the CT Ribbon Cable. This cutting-edge cable, integrating up to 24 optical fibers into one ribbon, boosts splicing efficiency, accelerates installation, and saves time. We’re focusing in on making this ribbon cable smaller and lighter to simplify handling.
Europe, too, is on our radar, with its optical fiber market making up roughly 10% of the global share and showing continued growth. To tap into this vibrant market, we have set up a French office and formed a joint venture in Spain, enhancing their distribution and supply chain. Although France is currently the focal point, plans are in motion to gradually stretch into Germany, the United Kingdom, and beyond, aiming to spread our business throughout Europe. The European market also presents a unique challenge and opportunity with its high demand for Air Blown Cables. The region's historical preservation often limits and restricts the installation of duct or aerial cables. Traditional methods of accessing existing ducts to install cables can be problematic, both due to potential harm to historical sites and the extensive time and costs of intricate civil works.
Fortunately, countries in Europe have found a solution through Air Blowing installation, taking advantage of their well-maintained existing ducts. This process involves fitting microducts within existing ducts and utilizing compressed air to insert the cables, enhancing space efficiency. Our Mini ABC, a cable that is average half the diameter and 70% of the weight of standard outdoor cables, stands out in this application. Not only does it excel in Air Blowing performance, but it also improves installation speed and lowers labor costs, contributing to savings and attracting significant interest in the market.

The increasing prevalence of data-intensive applications such as autonomous driving, AI, and telecommunications data is driving a surge in demand for 5G technology. As a key player in the communications and cable industry, it's clear that your company, Taihan Fiberoptics, has been deeply involved in 5G network infrastructure development. So, what specific areas of the business is your company focusing on?
Being at the forefront of South Korea's telecommunications cable market, where 5G was initially launched, we have undertaken various projects related to the construction of wireless communication infrastructures like 5G. The architecture of 5G networks employs mmWave frequencies that operate over short distances and confined areas. Consequently, infrastructure development leads to a reduction in the distance between cell stations and an increase in their number. This trend, in turn, escalates the need for optical cables that interconnect these stations. We have been instrumental in meeting this telecom operators’ needs by supplying all kinds of high performance 5G AAU cable assembly such as CPRI, power cable and alarm cable to connect the Digital Unit (DU) and Radio Unit (RU) in South Korea's 5G infrastructure. This was achievable due to the company's successful implementation of Vertical Integration, a process where everything from preforms to cables is produced in-house.
With the rise of technologies like autonomous driving and AI becoming an integral part of everyday life, the global demand for 5G is set to soar. Taihan Fiberoptics’ significant contributions to South Korea's pioneering 5G infrastructure has endowed us with invaluable expertise. This expertise not only enhances the company's position within the 5G landscape but also positions it well to explore various other telecommunications infrastructure projects worldwide.

In recent years, the trend towards eco-friendly businesses has grown significantly. How does Taihan Fiberoptics, as a Korean company advocating for a carbon-free society, align with this movement?
Around the world, environmental abnormalities and shifts have led international entities, including the UN and nations mainly in the EU, to redouble their efforts for environmental sustainability, with a specific focus on achieving carbon neutrality. We are wholeheartedly engaged in these initiatives, actively supporting and contributing to the goal of becoming a green enterprise with ZERO carbon emissions.
Taihan Fiberoptics has taken concrete steps in this direction by forming an ESG team to lay the groundwork for leadership in ESG management. We have succeeded in reducing our carbon emissions by 11% compared to three years prior and are committed to ongoing efforts to curbing them further.
We're also developing strategies to utilize renewable energy sources such as solar power in our pursuit of carbon neutrality. Beyond organizational measures, we are preparing educational materials for our employees to underscore the significance of a carbon-free society and promote its practical implementation in everyday life. Our ongoing mission is to foster a sustainable and harmonious coexistence between human beings and the natural world.

If I were to revisit you for an interview on your final day in office, what accomplishments would you hope to have realized by then?
Since embarking on my career in 1989, I have devoted my life to the fiber optics industry. Looking back on my achievements and experiences over these years, my passion for fiber optics is abundantly clear. This field, with its ability to elevate the human condition, holds deep personal and professional meaning for me.
I am profoundly proud of my role in advancing the fiber optics sector, and I ardently wish for continued growth in our business. Furthermore, I aspire to pass on my expertise, hoping that it will make a lasting contribution to future generations.