When Ontario’s utility companies began entering the telecommunications market a few years ago, it looked like bad news for the traditional telcos. After all the u-telcos own and operate their own fibre networks, allowing them to compete with companies like Bell Canada and Telus for large enterprise accounts.
In many cases, this scenario has played out as expected, with the u-telcos going head-to-head against the traditional telcos, largely for services like raw lit bandwidth and dark fibre.
But the u-telcos are now also emerging as possible partners for the traditional telcos. Last November, Bell Canada and Cobourg, Ont.’s utility company finalized a deal to install a high-speed IP connection for GE Advanced Materials in Cobourg.
Bell is also close to finalizing a similar deal with another u-telco and will continue to consider the u-telcos as potential partners in the future, says Kelly McDougald, senior vice-president of sales with Bell Enterprise Solutions.
Bell will continue to use its own facilities wherever it can, McDougald explains. But in cases where Bell has no nearby facilities and a customer wants a high-speed connection quickly, Bell will consider using the u-telcos to pipe services into the customer premises, she says.
Bell will also consider using fixed wireless services instead of fibre in some cases, but McDougald notes customers don’t consider wireless to be as reliable as a wireline network.
In the case of GE, the company needed to quickly boost its frame relay bandwidth with an IP connection that provided speeds 10 times as fast as its existing Bell frame relay service. Bell didn’t have fibre facilities into the GE buildings, so the telco turned to Cobourg’s utility firm, which had an existing fibre connection into GE, to provide a dark fibre for the IP offering.
“Our objective is to satisfy our end users interests,” McDougald says. “We continue to try and be as creative as possible when satisfying our customer requirements.”