Network Sharing Another area of opportunity to gain cost efficiencies is for electric, water and gas utilities to share communications infrastructure. Wireless infrastructure needed for remote meter reading is just one example of where utilities could collaborate to leverage the investment costs between utilities implementing similar functions. Multiutility collaboration could be particularly beneficial for water utilities where extending wireless infrastructure may be cost prohibitive. “By extending network access and reach, water utility leaders could improve watershed monitoring and the scheduling of resources. They could also reduce energy consumption and implement asset management programs in a cost-effective manner,” Siegrist said. However, he noted that joint use agreements and regulatory hurdles will need to be addressed in order for utilities to implement such collaborative plans. In addition, optimizing a utility network requires thorough planning. “We recommend that utilities develop a telecommunications master plan,” Siegrist said. “A telecom master plan outlines the strategies and business requirements that a utility has in place today, as well as its vision and anticipated future needs.” In essence, the master plan provides a blueprint of what the future network will look like, he said. The plan will also provide utilities with a phased roadmap for efficient migration to the desired future state. The phases of the roadmap are often implemented over multiple years, with potential midcourse updates along the way. Subject Matter Expert Dean Siegrist: SiegristDA@bv.com Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you.