Brattle principals Peter Fox-Penner and Joe Wharton have authored a paper discussing the evolution of the telecommunications industry and its parallels to the changes currently faced by electric utilities.

The paper, “SureWest’s Transformation and Its Lessons for Today’s Electric Utilities,” explains how the power industry, confronted with developments in clean energy and energy efficiency requirements, are currently experiencing the same game-changing shifts as the telecommunications industry once did. Drs. Fox-Penner and Wharton draw upon the progression of SureWest Communications – previously known as Roseville Telephone Company – as it faced a growing demand for new technologies such as cellular phones, broadband, and mobile internet. Essential to SureWest’s continued success as a competitor in the telecommunications sector was, according to the authors, the company’s transformation in sales operation, installation, and expanded consumer education. Although there are numerous fundamental differences between the electric power and telecommunications industries, Drs. Fox-Penner and Wharton suggest that utility executives examine how SureWest adapted to new challenges and opportunities as a lesson for utilities’ ability to survive. They caution that electric companies “must either get much more involved managing their customer’s energy use or they will cede this part of the value chain to a wave of competitors.”

The paper can be downloaded below.

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