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Re: [RFI] ECM...etc.

To: "RFI Reflector" <rfi@contesting.com>
Subject: Re: [RFI] ECM...etc.
From: "Ward Silver" <hwardsil@centurytel.net>
Date: Mon, 6 Sep 2004 18:30:02 -0700
List-post: <mailto:rfi@contesting.com>
Good points, Ed - I offer at least a partial riposte...

> Your assumption is not valid; not all utilities have the infrastructure
> already in place for what you describe.  Most do not, and those few that
> probably don't have it into every home.  If they did, they'd all be doing
> AMR and many other things already.  Not very many are at this point for a
> reason, lack of infrastructure.

I suspect that the majority of the utilities that think they can handle
high-speed data already have the low speed metering system.  A utility that
hasn't done remote meter reading has zero business jumping into the
broadband market.

> My question is when a utility does not have any infrastructure in place to
> do any of this, why would they build two complete systems just to provide
> slow-model system and fast-model system when they could build one system
> that could do both?

They wouldn't, of course.  But if the low-speed remote metering system can't
make them a decent return on investment, I doubt very much that BPL, with
all it's infrastructure and downstream costs would make them money.

> There would be less infrastructure and maintenance cost with only one
> system, and with BPL it theoretically goes into every home or at least
> every home they want it to.  It could also be IP-based making system
> network components modern and easily available as opposed to trying to
> obsolete devices running at slow speeds & obsolete protocols.  (At least,
> that's the way the I.T. folks might view it no matter how realistic or
> unreallistic that might be).  And installing a limited-speed,
> limited-throughput system wouldn't allow more data-intensive services in
> the future.

Implementing an IP-based system on your own costs a whole lot more than
using the telephone system for dial-up.

Agreed that remote metering systems don't migrate to broadband delivery.
However, my original point was that, since remote metering has been out
there for ten years, if the utility isn't doing it now, they either don't
have the customer base to make it, and by extension, BPL, pay.  None of the
remote metering stuff is obsolete or hard to get - it's a mature system.

> This is not to say BPL is the right solution, but to point out some faults
> in some of your arguments.  As you've pointed out, the overall costs of
> installation, operations and interference-mitigation are the weakness of
> BPL (assuming the FCC doesn't write new rules removing the last one from
> the equation).

BPL is untried on any significant scale and has large downstream costs
associated with it.  I just don't see medium and small-scale rural utilities
making the leap.  Suburban and urban utilities can't possibly make enough
inroad over DSL and cable.  For who does BPL make sense, exactly?

> Also, I'm guessing they're still using dial-up for credit card approvals
> not because the internet is too "race-car" fast, but probably due to
> security and reliability concerns.

I think the old V.24 systems are just too prevalent and inexpensive for the
IP-based system to displace them. They keep the system costs low.  Migration
to IP just doesn't have enough payback to make it worthwhile, unless you
have a very high volume operation, such as a big department store.

Anyway - good discussion.  I hope utility CFOs are having the same...

73, Ward N0AX

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