Alpha sees more opportunities for in-home power supplies for broadband, IP-based services

Alpha, a provider of power supplies for the cable and telecom industries, is seeing interest in battery backup power for broadband particularly rise from its carrier customers.

Todd Loeffelholz, senior director of product management for Alpha, told FierceInstaller it is seeing more of its customers purchase and keep in stock its battery backup solutions for their broadband customers.

"We've seen an uptick in our backup powering family for in-home applications because now everybody has to have it on their portfolio," Loeffelholz said. "We're seeing anywhere from a two to six percent take up rate on when people get offered it."

Loeffelholz added that the customers that purchase higher bandwidth services want backup power as part of their package.

"A lot of times people are even expecting it to go up higher mostly because a lot of the people that are getting the higher bandwidths also want backup power in their homes," Loeffelholz said.

While traditional telcos and cable operators are seeing a specialized group of customers asking for backup power for broadband services, they have to offer it to be in compliance with FCC rules.

Under the FCC's backup powering proposal, service providers would be required to provide up to eight hours of standby backup power for purchase when consumers subscribe to a VoIP or FTTH service either directly from the service provider or from a third-party retailer. The FCC added that within three years, service providers would also be required to offer an option for 24 hours of standby backup power.

"It will really change how people look at backup powering," Loeffelholz said. "The other side of it is pushing it back into the plant because it does not do you any good to have powering in the home if you don't have power in the plant."

Telcos and rural providers remain divided on the FCC's backup power rules. Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and rural telco organizations like the NTCA, say the FCC's requirements are too stringent and don't reflect most subscribers' usage patterns during power outages.

Verizon noted in an earlier FCC filing most customers are increasingly using cellphones as their voice connection during a power outage.

For those customers that want backup powering for FiOS service, Verizon offers its "PowerReserve" solution, which uses traditional D-cell batteries to provide about 20+ hours of back-up power for voice service, depending on the model of the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) at the customer's location.

NTCA, an organization the represents rural telcos, agreed with Verizon's points. The organization said that the FCC should not place larger mandates on service providers since many consumers will use cell phones during power outages.

In an FCC filing, NTCA said that "the Rural Representatives stated that mandates beyond this eight hour standard would impose unreasonable and unnecessary costs on RLECs."

Related articles:
Verizon says fewer customers are purchasing battery backup for fiber home voice services
NTCA critical of additional backup power mandate on rural telcos