Telco-utilities Synergies and Commonalities

Telecommunications and utilities are two very specific industries that existed separately for a long time. We are currently witnessing a consistent change in this state of affairs, as synergies between the two have become increasingly significant in recent years.

Specification of the utilities and telco industries

Both industries rely on digital systems that support physical infrastructure to provide services. Telecommunications enable smarter power grids and support efficient communication between devices thanks to extensive OSS (operation support systems) solutions. Utilities companies possess their own communication networks, which are often very complicated, heterogeneous, and incorporate outdated technologies.

These infrastructures serve a wide range of purposes, from industry-specific SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems overseeing sensors and metering through transport and wirelines enabling access to wireless microwave and cellular networks. Using such heterogeneous systems can generate serious issues in managing them, especially in terms of detecting and recovering from system malfunctions and incidents.

As utilities service providers become more aware of these issues, they are increasingly eager to look for telco-originating OSS solutions that will enable stocktaking of existing network assets, supervision of operations, and management of their status and configuration. Power grids, water pipelines, and other elements of utilities networks work largely in the same manner as telecommunications networks and are facing many identical problems. Properly adjusted OSS platforms for telco can easily solve challenges in managing utilities infrastructure and ensuring service continuity. By doing so, utilities companies can save a lot of time and money that would be necessary to develop utility-specific solutions from scratch. It is much more reasonable to base it on already field-tested products that serve largely the same purpose.

Business benefits of telco-utilities cooperation

In addition to the technical benefits mentioned earlier, cooperation between telcos and utilities companies is mutually beneficial from a business perspective. Diversifying the portfolio of products and services is desired by major players from both industries to expand their businesses.

Utilities operators are capable of monetizing the fact that their infrastructure is already connected to every house and apartment, which enables them to provide telco services, such as wireline network access. On the other hand, telecommunications service providers are entering the utilities market (for example, electricity) and offering convergent, multi-industry bundles containing telecommunications, non-telecommunications, and utilities service.

This dynamic is gradually blurring the lines between telecom and utilities companies, creating a kind of visionary hybrid company that combines the best of both worlds.

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