A few weeks ago, I was invited to give a talk at Rural SmartGrid congress, to talk about synergies between telecom and power utilities. As the development of FTTH infrastructures is now a very hot topic in Spain, the message that I transmitted during my talk was how the electric Smart Grid and FTTH could generate win-win scenarios. Bill St. Arnaud has been widely talking about this in his blog and I can not but agree with his positions.
My vision regarding FTTH, and in general ultra broadband, is that they have a transversal impact and that are not just business for telecom operators. The national telecom operators are all investing in the big cities and there is a lot of room and areas to explore in the countryside, where national operators are not competitive because it is a completely different business to deploy a network in a very dense area than in a small town.
Therefore, small power utilities have also opportunities to develop ultra broadband to offer transversal services to their customers, and I do not mean just internet access. When one mixes broadband and power distribution, the potencial synergies between both are huge:
- real-time power management
- power consumption monitoring and optimization
- new apps that use data from both services…
However, this new approach also requires changes in power utilities mentality, as to sell telecom services is totally different than energy ones.
This is because the telecom sector is a very competitive market, and the subscriber is perceived as a customer, while in the energy sector, the subscriber is just a a subscriber. This forces to redefine the marketing and commercial structures of power utilities but anyway, I really believe they can do it.
On the other hand, power utilities are in a very good position to offer telecom services because they already have a base of subscribers and at the same time, they deployment costs should be reduced, as they can use their existing infrastructures to deploy ultra broadband.
Therefore, I see a lot of potential in potential partnerships between telecom operators and power utilities in order to jointly develop ultra broadband projects in low density areas.
We will see in the short term if this starts to happen…