A utility co-op in Oklahoma that is readying a gigabit network deployment is leveraging a suite of software to not only help it deploy and optimize its network, but also provide more options for monetizing its video headend investment.
Bolt Fiber Optic Services , a subsidiary of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, is integrating the Overture software platform from ETI Software Solutions for a wide range of functions, including network design, service provisioning, customer care and billing, and network monitoring. Bolt is in the first phase of a planned three-year buildout of a fiber-to-the-home network that ultimately will pass 32,000 homes and provide triple-play services and speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s. (See Utility to Go Gigabit in Oklahoma.)
The Overture platform also allows Bolt -- which is deploying the Mediaroom platform from Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) to deliver IPTV services -- to lease its headend to other electrical co-ops and further monetize its investment. The strategy is indicative of the manner in which electrical co-ops approach their business operations, says Sheila Allgood, manager of Bolt.
"One of the reasons we invested in Mediaroom was so that we had to option to resell headend services, and we needed software that would allow us to make sure our data would be separate and confidential from other customers' data," she says. "In a co-op world, we share whenever there is an outage; we share linemen -- and we look at this as no different. It's not just the expense -- it's the technical expertise and finding the types of people in rural communities who are IPTV experts."
The option to share the headend also gives co-ops such as Bolt a way to diversify revenue beyond their boundaries, helping to defray the investment and combat rising costs of video licensing and competition from over-the-top (OTT) services.
"Our software has the capability to allow a completely separate business entity to utilize the Bolt headend," says Frank Gine, president and COO of ETI Software. "They've invested a ton of money in this world-class IPTV system. There are a lot of little communities that could really benefit from these advanced services, but if they went out and spent the money on a headend, they couldn't meet their ROI."
Allgood of Bolt said that in addition to the ability to resell headend services, the fiber management and monitoring functionality of the platform -- along with ETI's reputation and experience supplying software for triple-play offerings -- were among the top reasons for its selection. (See Jackson Energy Enhances FTTH Billing.)
"We don't have a fiber management system in place," she says. "The system will allow us to not only monitor the network for outages and reliability, but also provide tools that link to mapping software and do things like show us what was sold that day."
Being able to do real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance is another critical need for utility providers, Gine adds.
"When you're a utility, the assumption is that your service is going to be up all the time," he says. "The level of service for voice, video, and data should match what they're doing on the power side."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading