Electrical grid operators make the most of their optical communication assets

Fri 02 Aug 2013

The majority of Sofrecom's customers have always been telcos, but we often use our expertise to address the problems of industrial clients as well. For example, Sofrecom recently advised SONABEL, Burkina Faso's national electricity company, on the benefits of developing carrier-to-carrier telecoms services over the un-used fiber-optic communication cables laid on the high voltage powerlines.

For any network operator, underexploited infrastructure means lost income. Electricity companies using optical communication lines may be able to generate new revenue streams by exploiting them to sell a variety of telecommunications services.

Before deciding to capitalize on spare capacity, it is important to evaluate the real market potential and the project's technical feasibility, and to identify the commercialization options: Sale or leasing? Dark fiber, leased lines, value-added services…? Wholesale capacity offers for operators or large companies? Consumer services?

Sofrecom has recently completed positioning studies of fiber-optic based services for telcos and advised them on the "build or rent" question in Libya, Botswana, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Aware of Sofrecom's experience acquired with telecoms and electrical utilities and its ability to mobilize multidisciplinary teams, SONABEL contracted Sofrecom last February to:

• identify the commercialization possibilities, taking into account national and international telecommunication regulations;
• prepare a list of companies and organizations who might be interested in exploiting spare optical capacity;
• estimate the annual income generated by selling this capacity;
• cost the additional equipment to optimize the required infrastructure.

Sofrecom delivered an in-depth analysis and recommendations in anticipation of this future activity, which will have to be built from scratch once a strategy has been selected. Selling telecoms services will require far-reaching organizational changes at SONABEL and considerable human effort.

Over almost half a century Sofrecom has developed a specific approach built on methods proven while working with Orange Group and operators worldwide. It covers a broad range of specializations, including sales and marketing, distribution, finance, human resources, information systems and networks, enabling it to help clients choose a strategy then successfully implement their transformation project or develop new telecoms activities.