Fiber Optic Backbone Adoption Key to Utilities’ Long-term Success

  • Navigant Consulting
  • Navigant Research
BOULDER, CO — As the energy economy shifts to a more distributed, competitive model, utility investment in fiber optic networks is growing. Smart grid investments and applications will be optimized due to access to high capacity fiber networks, and there will be many opportunities for new revenue generation. These findings come from a new report from Navigant Research examining the revenue streams that private fiber optic networks can offer utilities and how smart grid networks and applications can be optimized.

“Utilities that make calculated investments in fiber optic networking today, as well as tactical partnerships across and around their operating territories, stand to be well-positioned as the energy economy shifts to a more distributed, competitive model,” says Richelle Elberg, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Utilities can use their existing infrastructure and rights of way to economically deploy fiber capacity and capitalize on it via wholesale leasing or even retail broadband service offerings.”

Utilities Advised Not to Rule out Fiber Based on Cost Alone
According to the report, utilities should not rule out fiber networks based on cost alone. Instead, Navigant Research recommends utilities be proactive in developing a future-proof, fiber networking strategy by forming partnerships with neighboring utilities or telephone companies, considering a retail broadband strategy, and preparing for competition from incumbent providers.

Report Overview
This report, Building the Fiber Backbone for Utility Needs Today and Tomorrow, provides an overview of why utilities should carefully consider building a private fiber network—or leasing local capacity—despite its relatively high costs. It describes the multiple revenue streams that a private fiber network can enable and how smart grid networks and applications can be optimized. Cost estimates for various types of installations are provided. The report also describes the utelco business model and includes case studies of various utility fiber projects. Finally, recommendations for utilities evaluating fiber optic networks and their use cases are included. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.

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