Fayetteville, NC PWC tests the Triple Play waters

Smart grids and broadband, what a combination! This is the tact Fayetteville, NC Public Works Commission is considering for its electric customers as it constructs a fiber-based "smart grid." The new fiber-based "smart grid" infrastructure would be used to monitor power outages, enable customer energy management and even charge electric rates based on energy demand during the day.

As it equips its fiber network to support "smart grid" applications, the PWC thinks it can leverage the same infrastructure to deliver a Triple Play service suite (broadband data, video and phone service). While no official plans have been announced, the Fayetteville City Council gave the PWC its blessing to at least examine how it could build a Triple Play services business case.

A poll of PWC customers in January revealed that about 42 percent agreed that PWC should offer customers Triple Play services, while 31 percent believe the utility should stick to its day job of providing electricity, and 27 percent were unsure. Although about 70 percent of businesses and residential customers polled had cable TV and Internet service, two-thirds of residents would ditch their current provider for PWC if they offered a less expensive video or broadband data service.

Not surprisingly, local cable operator Time Warner Cable, which has not revealed when they will offer higher speed DOCSIS-based broadband services in Fayetteville, is not a fan of PWC's proposal. While TWC said they have nothing against new competitors, they think PWC would have an unfair advantage because they are not required to pay the same taxes TWC has to pay for operating in the city.

For more:
- see this article in the FayObserver