Dobson Fiber and Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E) have entered into an agreement to build about 350 miles of new fiber and use 600 miles of Dobson’s existing network to upgrade the utility’s communications network.
The upgrade will support new grid automation and eliminate the threat of wireless interference to which traditional microwave systems are vulnerable.
The agreement will provide OG&E, which is a subsidiary of OGE Energy Corp., with a far more powerful network. Bandwidth will be upgraded from 150 Mbps to 10 Gbps and network security and resiliency will be improved. This will increase reliability and uptime and reduce risk to wireless interference and facilitate compliance with evolving FCC regulations.
“One of Dobson’s core strengths is building and maintaining fast and reliable fiber networks,” Dobson Fiber CEO Francisco Maella said in a press release about the Dobson Oklahoma Gas deal. “We are thrilled to partner with OG&E to enhance their utility communications network backbone, manage the fiber network and access approximately 350 new miles of fiber in Oklahoma.”
OGE Energy Chairman, President and CEO Sean Trauschke said in a press release that working with Dobson Fiber will save more than 60% over standard deployment costs. Dobson owns and operates a regional fiber network of more than 4,500 miles.
Dobson Fiber, which traces its roots back to 1936, rebranded from Dobson Technologies in February. The company says that its fiber investments have increased the business buildings that it could help transition from copper to fiber from about 15,000 to about 32,000 as of last year.
There are deep synergies between telecommunications providers and utility companies. Both provide mission-critical services and have to run extremely reliable networks that bring their products to virtually all business and residential addresses in their footprints. That’s a labor- and capital-intensive task that makes cooperation prudent, as the Dobson Oklahoma Gas news illustrates.
In July, 2020, Windstream said its Kinetic business unit would partner with rural electric co-op Colquitt Electric Membership Corp. on a broadband buildout in rural Georgia. The project was focused on a FTTP network capable of 1 Gbps speeds.
The network, which was to be “jointly built” and “jointly owned,” would serve areas with average population densities as low as seven households per square mile. Windstream essentially would be helping to overbuild itself: It currently serves the area with DSL technology that provides downstream data rates of between 10 Mbps and 100 Mbps.