Technology, policy, and consumers at the nexus of communications, electricity, water, and other critical services…
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What’s at stake…Convergence within and between the advanced communications, energy, and water sectors – sectors that deliver critical services – is creating significant opportunities and challenges for consumers, companies, government, and other institutions. Ultimately, the intersection of these sectors, and the policies and regulatory frameworks governing them, can help drive – or hinder – economic and social advancement. Virtually every demographic and every sector of our economy is impacted by this nexus. Public health, social justice, and economic opportunity are all implicated – which is why the outcomes matter.
Getting the policy right…Advanced communications services (wireless, broadband, and the like) have transformed nearly every aspect of daily life. In the energy and water arenas, transformative technologies, platforms, and services are poised to disrupt and improve the delivery of essential services. All of these new tools have the potential to equip every customer – regardless of demography or geography – with more choices and control over how they live and what they consume.
The mission…The Convergence Project examines the interplay of regulation, investment, and innovation in the utilities sectors and evaluates opportunities for collaboration among stakeholders in the telecom, energy, and water spaces, all with an eye toward further empowering consumers and supporting continued forward progress in the modernization of our nation’s critical infrastructure.
Specific focus areas include:
- The Telecom-Energy-Water Nexus – TCP examines how these critical sectors intersect and overlap, whether there are opportunities for meaningful collaboration among entities in these spaces, the extent to which convergence is benefiting consumers, and whether the benefits of increased partnership between service providers outweigh the costs.
- Smarter & More Modern Infrastructure – High-speed Internet connectivity increasingly serves as the foundation upon which electric and water utilities are building “smarter” infrastructure. Composed of wireless sensors and other interconnected components that rely on broadband connections, more intelligent systems are reshaping how critical services are delivered to and used by consumers. But are these “smarter” grids being developed in a timely manner? What roles can existing broadband networks play in enabling these systems? What needs to happen for consumers to take full advantage of smarter utility services? Are concerns about data privacy and cybersecurity being adequately addressed by policymakers?
- The 21st Century Energy Ecosystem – The energy sector is in the midst of a monumental shift. Technology is changing the manner in which energy sources are being harnessed and used – new tools empower consumers to have more control over their consumption, and they also enable new ways of producing energy, which potentially position consumers as generators and sellers of electricity. Such profound change, though, is raising novel regulatory issues and important questions about equity and social justice. What needs to be done from a legal and regulatory perspective to balance investment and innovation on the one hand with preservation of core notions of inclusion on the other?
- Impediments to Further Advancement and Convergence – Technological advancement within the advanced communications, energy, and water arenas – and between those sectors (i.e., the nexus) – is, in part, a function of existing laws and policies. TCP examines issues such as: whether current regulatory and policy regimes are spurring or hindering new services; strategies for modernizing legacy policies; removing impediments to competition, innovation, and enhanced service delivery in key sectors and demographics; and mechanisms to facilitate much-needed investment in critical utility infrastructure.