Utilities & Electric Cooperatives
Large utilities and smaller scale electric cooperatives alike provide essential energy. However, broadband internet is another essential resource they could be providing. Utility broadband / electric cooperative broadband represents a new revenue stream that also meets the needs of existing energy customers, and other potential customers in the service area.
Utilities and electric coops are actually in the ideal position to offer fixed wireless broadband Internet to their energy subscribers. In addition, they stand to benefit directly in their own operations by implementing the latest wireless technologies throughout their substations and remote locations.
Rural Electric Coop (REC) - Fixed Wireless Broadband
The markets served by electric coops are long overdue for innovation. By offering fixed wireless broadband internet to current energy customers with inadequate or no internet connectivity, coops are meeting their customer's needs and creating a new revenue stream.
Implementing a fixed wireless broadband network does not require starting over for electric coops. Utilizing legacy power infrastructure already in place allows coops to to deliver fixed wireless access (FWA) quickly and cost-effectively. Broadband can be incorporated into the existing coop operations or built as a new subsidiary that leverages the coop. By delivering broadband to rural areas, electrical coops can play a proactive role in the economic growth and development of the communities they serve.
Electric coops offering broadband wireless can:
- Deliver Fiber-Like Performance
- Offer “Triple Play” Services (Data, Voice, Video)
- Meet Enterprise and Consumer Requirements
- Save on Infrastructure and Maintenance
Coops can exclusively use wireless for all customers, or as a complement for an existing fiber network, where fiber is not practical or affordable due to challenging terrain or distance required.
Advantages wireless has over fiber:
- Significantly lower infrastructure costs
- Versatility in connecting over challenging terrain
- Easier to connect subscriber-dense neighborhoods
- Less time to market
- Quicker ROI
Broadband Use Case: Electric Coop in Wyoming
Interview with Roger, Internet Manager
Tell me about your electric coop.
"Founded in 1938 as one of Wyoming's consumer-owned cooperatives, the primary goal of our association is to provide electric energy at the lowest possible cost. As a value add to our members, we also began offering wireless internet around 2005."
What led to your decision to offer fixed wireless broadband?
"In the early 2000s, no reliable internet service was available at a reasonable price. Options were limited to dial-up, and some DSL in the direct vicinity of the telco that was offering it. We saw this as a win-win opportunity to meet the needs of our coop members and generate an additional revenue stream."
How has offering fixed wireless helped your coop to grow?
"In the first 15 years of offering internet service, we’ve been able to connect approximately 1,200 rural subscribers, with internet packages ranging from 5 to 50 Mbps packages over fixed wireless. Utilizing existing power poles and infrastructure has enabled us to expand more cost-effectively. The revenue generated has been a very nice addition to our bottom line, and is a reliable part of our association’s overall operational budget."
Why did you choose fixed wireless over fiber?
"We looked into offering fiber, but this proved to be an impractical business model for our rural area. Our wireless packages provide broadband speeds at a fraction of the cost for fiber deployment."
Describe your role as Internet Manager of an electric coop.
"My role as Internet Manager is focused on working with our Internet team to ensure optimal network performance. This includes day to day monitoring, but also involves keeping up with technology and deploying the latest equipment. Another aspect of my role is anticipating expansion. As we approach subscriber and capacity thresholds, I’ll determine the equipment needed to cover and support new subscribers. As we manage and build out our network, our goal is to provide our customers with the best internet service possible."
Tell me about your network.
"Our diverse network is comprised of high-quality fixed wireless equipment that has enabled us to expand across 200 sq miles of service area. We utilize a variety of spectrum including the 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 3.65 GHz, and 5 GHz bands to connect subscribers, as dictated primarily by terrain. We have mostly residential customers, typically on data only packages. We also provide VoIP for those that require it."
What advice do you have for other Electric Coops?
"Careful equipment selection is key. Investing in quality gear that will support growth and expansion is worth the bigger initial investment in the long run. We’ve seen our gear last eight to nine years with little to no maintenance. Network expenses can be partially offset by using existing power infrastructure to hang radios and antennas whenever possible. Lastly, timely customer service is an important factor for subscriber loyalty."
Wireless Broadband for Power Utilities
Power Utilities can create private, high-performance wireless systems with ruggedized durability to improve smart grid reliability, creating better communications and monitoring on demand. Having control over a private network allows for secure transportation of IoT data, video surveillance, and advanced metering that is safe from neighboring interference, and free from the limitations imposed by cellular carriers.
Power utility wireless applications include:
- Private LTE Mobility
- Fixed Wireless Access
- Smart Grid Distribution Automation
- Industrial IoT
- Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) Backhaul
- Monitoring and Control
- Point-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) Video Surveillance
Wireless Broadband for Digital Oil Fields
Wireless broadband can deliver all of the voice, data and video solutions required for onshore and offshore operations. Whether configured as fixed, nomadic, or mobile, wireless networks are private, secure, and ruggedized for stability and performance.
Digital oil field fixed and mobile wireless applications include connectivity for:
- Real Time CCTV Monitoring
- Remote Sensor Reading
- Industrial IoT
- Pipeline Protection
- Mobile Vehicles
- Nomadic Rigs