The supplier that bundles energy and telecom services into a single, low bill will win out, say residential customers. Will it be the electric company?
The increasingly busy lifestyle Americans lead could play into the hands of energy suppliers able to ease that burden, according to the findings of a national survey.
Consulting firm PHB Hagler Bailly found that 45 percent of residential customers would consider their energy company as a supplier of telephone service. Other than price - the primary motivator for customers to consider bundled energy and telecom services - customers said they would be swayed by a single point of contact and bill.
"What this survey is saying is there is a residual market for energy companies that have a reasonably good reputation to potentially exploit that by selling telecommunications services," explains Dr. Joe Kraemer, leader of PHB Hagler Bailly's telecommunications consulting practice. In effect, the electric company would act as an agent, negotiating wholesale rates with telecom suppliers and reselling the services to its customers.
So do the telecommunications companies see energy suppliers as a potential threat?
"In terms of local phone service ¼ we have not seen any competition to speak of from energy companies, although, of course, they have lines going into peoples' homes," says Mike Pruyn, director of public relations for AT&T.