November 28, 2023 by Nick Jones

The Secret To Running Both Electricity and Broadband in One Business

 

Nick Jones

Senior Field Marketing Manager, Calix

 

As an electric cooperative, you know that high-speed internet is essential to the growth and vitality of your community—just like electricity was over 85 years ago. Today, this critical utility is one of the most important things you can offer, and you’re in an excellent position to do so because of your history with electricity. 

While you know that these networks can be life-changing for residents in rural and remote areas, you may not know that deploying fiber-optic broadband can actually help the electric side of your business as well. 

Smart Grids Can Help Electric Cooperatives Improve Operations on Both Sides of the Business

Smart grids are created by incorporating internet-connected technologies into the electric power grids that you’re already using. This means you can operate with a more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective service—both for high-speed broadband and electricity. 

But what exactly is a smart grid? It’s an electricity network that uses digital technologies, among others, to monitor and manage electricity as it moves from its source to the end user. You’ve potentially explored several ways to improve information and electricity in a two-way communication across your existing electric grid. You may have looked at cellular, radiofrequency, or powerline communication. Additionally, connected devices have been installed more regularly throughout grids—think sensors, reclosers, controllers, and smart meters. 

Connected devices use the internet to transmit data so that operators can act on it using software management platforms. This data means you can see the status of your power supply and its consumption. This is the power of a smart grid. By understanding the way your grid is operating, you can reduce operational costs and waste by more evenly distributing power. You can also pass cost savings down to end users, trimming electricity bills. 

Smart Grids Rely on Accurate, Real-Time Data—Made Possible by Fiber-Optic Broadband

Data is only good if it’s reliable—and it’s only reliable if it’s accurate, which means it must be measured all the time and updated accordingly. Smart grids require lots of data to be processed quickly and reliably, but how can you ensure that’s done? Through fiber-optic broadband. 

Only fiber-optic networks have the bandwidth, speed, and resiliency to transfer that amount of data. They’re also resilient and can run for miles without signal degradation. This is perfect especially for rural or remote areas, where teams may be smaller and serving areas might be lower density. 

By using a fiber-optic network to support your electric grid, you can run an efficient smart grid and see true operational benefits. That’s what Bandera Fiber did, originally Bandera Electric Cooperative. In the Texas Hill Country, they utilized their fiber network for distributed energy, smart grid automation, meter readings, and gigabit broadband services. 

But don’t take my word for it, learn more about smart grids by enrolling in Broadband Academy. Smart tip: Take Broadband Services Fundamentals first. You’ll learn everything you need to know about launching a broadband business. Then dive into Understanding Broadband Services for Electric Cooperatives, where you’ll cover topics like smart grids, methods of owning and operating broadband networks, and the importance of data insights. 

Enroll now in Broadband Academy, where you can take Broadband Services Fundamentals and Understanding Broadband Services for Electric Cooperatives