I recently realized that we are on the verge of being able to use FTTP networks to do a lot more than serve residents and businesses. My typical business plan concentrates on the revenue streams that can be gotten from residential and business customers. We also look at a few other revenue streams like selling to large customers like schools or cell phone towers. And we normally consider wholesale sales made to other carriers already in the market.
But everything I read tells me that there are soon going to a whole lot of new opportunities for using a fiber network, particularly in medium to large markets. We are seeing some of these opportunities today, but each of these areas promises to get larger as time goes by. Consider some of the following:
Outdoor WiFi Network: More and more cities and even some carriers are starting to foresee business plans that include numerous outdoor WiFi hotspots. This can be for law enforcement and municipal use, for roaming WiFi cellphones, to provide a digital divide solution, or just to provide a service to citizens or customers.
Smart Lampposts: Similar to WiFi hotspots are smart lampposts that include smarter lighting that saves energy coupled with WiFi hotspots.
Mini Cell Sites: As the cellular carriers contemplate going to 5G they are going to need a lot more and smaller cell sites located close to users. And these cell sites will need fiber.
Traffic Light Systems: There are new systems of intelligent traffic signals that promise to significantly improve traffic flows using AI.
Cameras: There is a proliferation of cameras today including private security cameras, traffic cameras, web-cams, and law enforcement security monitoring.
Digital Advertising Signs: There are now programmable billboards that can change the display through programming.
IoT Aggregation Points: Most carriers envision a network of IoT aggregation points that gather the traffic to and from outdoor and other IoT monitors as a separate Ethernet network.
Smart Meter Aggregation Points: Although wireless technology seems to have won the smart meter race, these networks need neighborhood aggregation points to gather signals from the wireless monitors.
SCADA Systems for Electric and Water Utility Monitoring: While many electric and water systems now have fiber networks to connect monitors in their system, as we develop more sophisticated monitoring there will be the need for more monitoring points.
On top of these applications there are others that nobody has yet thought of, into a business plan. But fiber is a long-term investment and there are going to be numerous revenue opportunities like these that are going to help to pay for fiber, assuming that a fiber network is deployed with these kinds of connections in mind. People always ask me what happens to a fiber network as cable TV and telephone penetration rates drop, and at least part of the answer is that there are going to be numerous locations in a community that are going to require a fiber connection. None of us knows yet how these future revenue streams will be priced, but we know these are all revenue opportunities and that they are all coming in the not-too-distant future.