Most electric utilities have invested heavily in building private telecommunications networks. In fact, U.S. utility telecommunication networks combine to form the largest private network, second only to that of the Department of Defense. While these networks improve power system control and operational efficiency, they typically contain excess capacity available for sale to other companies. Given increased competition in their core business, many utilities are currently reviewing opportunities to use this excess network capacity. In most cases, the utility is attempting to leverage the following assets:
s Networks. An advanced telecommunications infrastructure, including fiber optic and wireless networks.
s Physical Plant. Rights-of-way and structures that can support wired and wireless network expansion.
s Spectrum. A dedicated allocation of frequency spectrum.
s Staff. A staff experienced in deploying and maintaining a communications network.
s Network Management. A
24-hour telecommunications network management and maintenance operations center.
Where's Your Advantage?
Here's the critical question for any electric utility that would jump into telephony: What is the source of your sustainable competitive advantage?
The dynamics of the telecommunications industry lie a world apart from power generation, transmission, and distribution. The differences present a daunting challenge to utilities who seek to profit from potentially underused telecommunication assets. The value proposition must be clear and must recognize both the technology and market-based challenges.