Light Reading

Utility Taps Its Own Power for FTTP

Jason Meyers

A municipal utility based in northeast Washington state is leveraging one of its core assets as it builds a fiber-to-the-premises network. It is using an installation kit that lets the utility tap into its own power supply safely at customer locations.

The Pend Oreille Public Utility District is building a fiber-optic network that will reach 5,000 homes and businesses in Pend Oreille County. Its Community Network System (CNS) division is building a wholesale network and working with retail partners to deliver Internet, phone, and eventually TV services to residents.

"We're done with our backbone buildout, and we're in the process of hooking up the premises," says Robert Fritz, supervisor of Pend Oreille's CNS. A field installation kit provided by Brooks Utility Inc. includes an adapter that taps into the utility's power supply and converts it to power the customer's optical network terminal, avoiding the need for a separate power supply.

"A power adapter sits at the electrical meter and merges the utility supply voltage into a 12-volt DC output for plugging directly into the ONT," says Scott Mann, director of marketing for Brooks Utility Products. Without that connection, customers would have to have an outdoor power supply or get an electrician to install one.

Fritz says the integrated power is also safer for consumers and eliminates end-user error. The positioning of the power supply means the customer's electrical bill won't go up because of the FTTP connection.

"If we go the outlet route, we run the risk of someone unplugging something," he says. "This way, it's part of our electrical infrastructure at the meter. It's isolated and in our control. And even though it's taking a very small amount of electricity, we're pulling it off of the pre-metered side of the kit, so there's no impact whatsoever on their utility bills."

Pend Oreille PUD produces hydroelectric power and distributes electricity and water to 8,500 customers in the county. Its FTTP buildout is a $34 million project, $27 million of which came from a federal grant under the Broadband Technologies and Opportunity Program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The project will also add redundant fiber to the utility's backbone that runs from near the Canadian border to Spokane.

— Jason Meyers, Utility Communications Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Blogger
7/14/2014 | 3:05:18 PM
Powerful connections
While power requirements may be small, it certainly seems like a convenience and an advantage to be able to tap directly into the electrical supply to power broadband, and it ultimately saves money and potentially speeds deployment for the consumer. 

And in case you're wondering (as I was), it's pronounced pän-də-ˈrā. 
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