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Are Utilities Really Gigabit Players?
Jason Meyers | Contributing Analyst
Many U.S. utility companies today are caught in a crisis of identity, progression and even purpose.

The reality of the situation in the U.S. is that regulatory restrictions, cost constraints, technological complexity, competition and even outright disinterest on the part of some players will prevent the vast majority of utility companies from being successful in providing communications services.
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Utilities & Gigabit Cities: A Market Sizing Report
Many U.S. utility companies today are caught in a crisis of identity, progression and even purpose. As a group, they rely on advanced communications technologies to deliver most, if not all, of the services they provide. As such, utilities must evolve and advance along with the evolution of communications technologies to efficiently deliver so-called "traditional" utility services: electricity, gas and water. Many utilities also are well positioned to move beyond that scope and either enable, or even deliver, broadband communications services to end customers. And many of them are attempting to do just that.

Those familiar with the history and evolution of telecommunications carriers (both fixed and mobile) might recognize the struggles of 1990s-era landline and mobile network operators in utilities' communications conundrums: They are operating aging, outdated networks in need of modernization. Many are grappling with a required upgrade of a time-division multiplexing (TDM)-based communications network used for internal purposes – an upgrade necessary to support increasingly bandwidth-hungry applications like advanced metering and substation automation. Others are weighing the cost and return on investment (ROI) metrics of extending a fiber network built along their own rights of way as part of an effort to offer broadband communications services to residents, thus becoming players in the rapidly developing Gigabit Cities ecosystem.

The reality of the utility situation in the U.S. today is that regulatory restrictions, cost constraints, technological complexity, competition and even outright disinterest on the part of the utilities themselves will prevent the vast majority of utility companies from being successful in providing communications services.

The examples in this report aptly demonstrate utility industry success in participating in the Gigabit Cities ecosystem. They also shed light on the extraordinary service delivery, technology infrastructure, regulatory and marketing hurdles that realistically will prevent a lot of these utilities' counterparts from realizing similar success in the communications services realm.

As the Gigabit Cities takes hold in the U.S., many different categories of service providers – ranging from municipalities themselves to large incumbent telecom and cable operators to small upstart carriers – will be competing across the country for a piece of the ultra-high-speed bandwidth action. All of them represent substantial opportunities for developers of communications network technology. Utilities will be there in the mix, too, in some markets – and the ones that are already succeeding or the ones destined for success will also be good targets for technology vendors. But overall, the role utilities play and the contribution they make to the Gigabit Cities ecosystem is likely to be relatively minimal.

Utilities & Gigabit Cities: A Market Sizing Report serves the dual purpose of assessing the size of the U.S. utility sector by providing a state-by-state list of U.S. utilities spanning all categories, and identifies market opportunities for technology vendors in the utility sector. Because of the close-to-the-vest nature of publicly-owned utilities when it comes to discussing communications technology investments, the opportunity portion of this report focuses on opportunities driven by the Gigabit Cities trend and the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network deployment activity of municipally owned and co-op utilities.
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (hri1214_toc.pdf)
This Heavy Reading Insider includes a database listing 1,081 U.S. utilities across 50 states and the District of Columbia. The utilities are classified both by states in which they operate and by how many potential customers they pass: Tier 1 is 250,000 and up, Tier 2 is between 100,000 and 250,000 and Tier 3 is less than 100,000 customers. Each of the state-by-state listings in our database also indicates the other states in which a utility operates, if any. The data is based on information collected from state Public Utilities Commissions, information collected directly from the utilities and information available online.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies profiled in this report include: Bolt Fiber Optic Services, a subsidiary of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative Inc.; EPB Fiber Optics, a subsidiary of EPB; Longmont Power & Communications; and Wilson Greenlight, an operating unit of Wilson Energy.
Total pages: 12
NOVEMBER 2014
CESR Vendors Target Energy Efficiency Worldwide
This report reviews how vendors worldwide are specifically addressing energy efficiency, focused particularly on CESR products. The report is built around status reports exploring vendor strategies to improve energy efficiency, derived from recent interviews with 13 major vendors worldwide.
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Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
OCTOBER 2014
Competitive Analysis: P-OTS for Edge/Aggregation Networks
This report examines the vendors vying for market share of a sub-segment of the packet-optical market – namely the supply of network systems for edge/aggregation networks. The report looks at the products the vendors offer. It uncovers their differentiating strategies and selling points, assesses their market success and looks at the buzz their products are getting. It finally compares vendors by giving them an aggregate score across these categories.
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Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
SEPTEMBER 2014
Windstream's REIT Gambit: A Heavy Reading Reality Check
This report analyzes Windstream's decision to spin off its legacy network assets into a REIT, focusing on the factors that influenced the decision and their applicability to other operators. It also analyzes the financial and ownership positions of other operators to determine if they may benefit from imitating this strategy.
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Including table of contents, executive summary, and financial metrics
CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Simon Sherrington
Simon is an independent consultant who contributes regularly to Heavy Reading Insider. He has 13 years of experience analyzing, reporting, and consulting on technology market trends.
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Simon Sherrington
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CONTRIBUTING ANALYST
Danny Dicks
Danny is an analyst and consultant with over 20 years' experience in technology markets who contributes regularly to Heavy Reading Insider.
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Danny Dicks
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ANALYST
Tim Kridel
Tim writes for both Mobile Networks Insider and Cable Industry Insider. He has previously covered the wireless and cable industries for a number of research firms, including Heavy Reading.
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Tim Kridel
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