Smart grid futures: Should utilities provide broadband?


By: SGN Staff


Quick Take: After years of lying dormant, the debate about utilities' role in providing broadband is heating up again. Here's my fear - that utilities will stay on the sidelines and the issue will be decided for them. I urge utilities to be intentional - to determine whether and how they want to participate in the rollout of municipal WiFi and/or fiber to the home. Then, whatever your decision, make your case in public. - By Jesse Berst


Companies such as Itron, Cisco and Tropos (a division of ABB) have long spread the gospel of a "multi-service" network. The idea is to install a single communications network that can be used in many different ways.


Recently the electric power industry has seen an uptick of interest in using utility networks for municipal tasks. For providing field communications to other municipal workers, for instance. Or free WiFi throughout a city. Or even fiber to the home.


Over in Australia, the EMFacts Consultancy blog is talking about municipal WiFi. They are treating it as a Big Brother threat. The big bad utility will sneak in and install a WiFi transmitter on your home without your consent, thereby bombarding you with dangerous electromagnetic radiation.



The scenario has little to do with reality, but it does illustrate the danger of allowing fringe groups to hijack public debate without any countervailing opinion from industry.