A strong impetus to use electric power more efficiently and the advent of smart grid technology is prompting a fundamental retooling of the nation’s utilities, and bringing together members of the telecom and utility industries. Yesterday, Verizon and the Utilities Telecom Council announced they will conduct a “first-of-its-kind” study of the communications and information technology requirements of U.S. utilities, one that will “identify the unique requirements of the utility industry to ensure safe, reliable and cost-effective energy grids for the 21st century,” according to a news release.

“With all the communications challenges facing utilities today with smart-grid and emergency-response requirements, utilities will need partners,” said William R. Moroney, UTC president and chief executive officer. “To be successful, utilities and their technology partners will need to have a common understanding of the technological, operational and financial factors that are the foundations for all the communications needs of utilities.”

The two industries share a common goal, added Mike Lanman, president of enterprise and government markets for Verizon Wireless: evolving ways to consume and distribute energy in the most efficient manner. “Verizon will play a critical role delivering the advanced solutions that meet the specific needs of our utility customers. This survey will be a catalyst in creating a deeper dialogue between our two industries so that we can identify and address current industry concerns and opportunities,” he said.

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To be completed and released to UTC members by September, the study will include focus group discussions with top telecom thought leaders at UTC member companies to be followed by in-depth questionnaires and background research into the business and technical issues related to utility telecommunications.

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