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ISPs could struggle to supply broadband routers thanks to chip shortage

Unplugged ethernet cable
(Image credit: Adrienne Bresnahan)

Broadband routers could be the latest victim of the global chip shortage affecting the tech industry, with ISPs seeing huge delays when ordering this hardware according to a new report.

Bloomberg’s sources say that some broadband providers are being told they could have to wait for longer than a year – up to 60 weeks even – in terms of the lead time for router orders, which is obviously a far from ideal situation.

As you probably guessed, the global pandemic is the catalyst here. Karsten Gewecke, Senior Vice President, Head of EMEA Regional Business Unit at router manufacturer Zyxel, told Bloomberg that it wasn’t just interfering with the component supply chain and manufacturing of the hardware, but also spiking demand for better routers as many more people find themselves working from home. In other words, it’s a double whammy for routers – less supply, and more demand.

If ISPs are struggling to get enough stock of routers, that could potentially lead to difficulties when it comes to signing up new customers, or replacing faulty hardware.

Close run

The report notes that Zyxel supplies some major ISPs including Zen Internet in the UK. Gewecke observes that no broadband provider is yet to run out of routers, but that it’s been a close-run thing “several times”, and that “it could still happen”, with the next six months looking shaky for the router supply chain.

It’s a somewhat worrying picture, then, but nothing new for the broader tech industry, which is suffering from the ongoing chip shortage across a number of fronts, including CPUs and graphics cards, plus display panels, with the latter possibly impacting Apple’s iPad, and MacBook production is purportedly being held back, too.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).