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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Utilicom : The indian perspective

Thomas F. Anglero has a perspective on his blog on the emergence of the utilicom. This is also covered in Rajesh Jain's blog. The real meat of the article is Anglero's very perceptive analysis of who controls the network.
"The average utility company has been in the same business as the average Telecom company in regards to providing a necessary service that by its very nature creates an addictive "dependency", has established a personal (trust) relationship which is recorded in a database with information about "you", and financially prospering by keeping a low-key profile to a very high margin business. The utility companies have the "right-of-ways" and easements directly into the bedrooms of each one of us and lie higher on the totem-pole of Business by controlling "the" most important element in Telecom...Energy!

If a Telecom company wanted to teach a nation a lesson about its importance, it could shut-down its network but subscribers would counter by subscribing to another competitor. If an Energy company shut-down its electrical grid, no-Telecom network would function, none of our modern and necessary conveniences would function, almost nothing, life doesn't stop - it reverses.

The Energy companies are the Poseidons of Utilicom. While Telecom companies focus on M&A of each other, the Energy companies will allow this to transpire because its a waste of capital and is clearly unnecessary. This was proven last week by Orange UK (France Telecom) who threw-down the gauntlet on broadband DSL and unlimited nationwide calling by practically giving it away (about $9 USD) to anyone willing to be an Orange UK mobile subscriber."

For India this is a great opportunity to understand and get the right infrastrcture (physical, social and political) in place. Given the power scenario and all the hype about how telecom penetration in india will change the way things are done the ground reality is that cellular providers are unable to setup cell sites even on secondary state highways due to lack of power infrastructure. But there are solutions available today, as can be seen here and here.
The point here is that while today its remote sites and bad terrain that demand such solutions, this is going to be the dominant means by which telecom and communication are going to spread in developing economies like india. distributed power generation and consumption are the way to go. Word in the grapevine is that Reliance is trying hard to get PV based cell sites up and the only issues today are the 24x7x365 power levels required rather any technical hurdles.So bulk of the world population will have telecom outside the control of the Utilcom's. At least till they find a way to tax sunlight and then privatize it !

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