NARUC Summit Enables Dialogue Among Utility Regulatory Professionals

Attorney Glenn Carberry attended last month’s Winter Policy Summit held by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Washington, D.C. Utility commissioners and key staff members from around the country, as well as approximately 1000 industry leaders engaged in three days of dialogue on current issues and shared information about best practices in the telecommunications, water, gas and electric fields.

New initiatives by fiber providers, small cell companies and government to expand broadband services, prepare the nation’s infrastructure for 5G and improvements to cybersecurity were of interest to Attorney Carberry and the firm’s many telecommunications clients. Summit panels included industry leaders, officials from the Federal Communications Commission, as well as state public utility commissions. The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is an active participant in the NARUC function.

Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) Commissioner Michael Caron moderated a panel that examined efforts being made by water companies to improve the resiliency of the water grid infrastructure across the nation. Industry representatives gave their assessments as to whether private and public water companies have done enough with their communications networks to guard against cybersecurity attacks by foreign adversaries.

Another panel looked at the future of the telecommunications industry from the perspective of Wall Street. Several telecommunications analysts agreed that a massive amount of capital investment will be required in the next decade to provide 5G service and handle the exploding demand for smart devices in the home and office. Which communications giants will have the resources to upgrade their networks and meet the needs of the marketplace remains a closely watched topic among investors and analysts.

Connecticut Consumer Counsel Elin Katz also participated in a panel, which looked at ways to deploy faster broadband service to rural parts of the country and areas in this state that are harder to reach. The tremendous growth in the use of small cell wireless antennas on utility poles throughout the country is improving service in many urban centers and underserved areas.

“Despite cold weather, the camaraderie and discussions with friends and officials at the event was refreshing and very enlightening. There is a lot of interest in Connecticut among telecommunications providers, so businesses and residents will have an increasing number of service options soon,” concluded Carberry.