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Richard Fahey and the UTC

It has been only a few short months since the United Telecommunications Council (UTC) made a move north of the border and expanded its core membership from the United States into Canada. But during th...


May 1, 2001  


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It has been only a few short months since the United Telecommunications Council (UTC) made a move north of the border and expanded its core membership from the United States into Canada. But during that small timeframe, the organization has already proved it is thinking big.

Helping it along is Richard Fahey, 34, who in January of this year took on the awesome responsibility of becoming one of the organization’s two Canadian regional chairs and shouldering the responsibility of letting Canadians know about our new neighbour.

And what is it he wants us to know? Well, quite simply, that the non-profit organization has arrived. And that it is setting its sights on representing the telecom and information technology interests of Canadian entities involved in the generation, transmission or distribution of electricity, natural gas or water.

Long history

This might be news to many Canadians, but the UTC has long been a fixture in the U.S. According to Mr. Fahey, it was first organized in 1948 as the National Committee on Utilities Radio (NCUR) in order to plan for the use of mobile radio technology in the utility industry. The organization was later renamed Utilities Telecommunications Council to better reflect its broadened scope of activities. And in June 1994, the association was again renamed as The United Telecommunications Council.

The UTC’s tasks are many and varied, but its primary duties appear to be threefold: to represent the telecom interests of its members before the government, the courts and various federal and state agencies; to provide members with technical information and with opportunities to exchange information; and to help develop policy and exchange information on the use of such things as land mobile radio, microwave, satellite, fiber optics, and information technologies.

Approximately 1,100 utilities and pipelines across North America are currently members of UTC — outfits that range from large investor-owned utilities and state- and municipally-organized utilities, to rural electric cooperatives and federal power marketing agencies.

Oh Canada

While the UTC had Canadian members, says Mr. Fahey, it had been sensing the need for a full slate of advocacy, regulatory and information-based services in Canada.

“We were seeing more and more utilities in Canada getting into telecom and we did think it would be appropriate to have a UTC in Canada in some shape or form,” says Mr. Fahey.

So last year the organization decided to kick it up a notch and enter the Canadian market in a larger way. To this end, the UTC held several months of discussions with UTC’s Canadian members and planned a Canadian UTC conference, held last in October in Toronto, to gauge interest.

The interest, says Mr. Fahey, was there, and in November 2000 the UTC created two Canadian regions to add to its existing 10 U.S. regions. The two regions are: Eastern Canada, which is chaired by Mr. Fahey (who in his day job is Director of Project Development at Gaz Metropolitain & Co. in Montreal, where he oversees the company’s telecom business) and Western Canada, which is chaired by Murray Matiowsky, Manager of Communications at Manitoba Hydro.

In addition to serving their Canadian members’ specific needs, the creation of the two Canadian Regions will enable UTC to represent these members at the federal and provincial level. And Mr. Fahey and Mr. Matiowsky, who will serve on the UTC Board of Directors, are working hard to inform those companies and individuals who will be affected by such dealings in Canada.

If you build it . . .

Yet, their jobs will not stop with sheer “marketing”. There is much work to be done this year, says Mr. Fahey — from establishing the required services for members, to organizing meetings and a Canadian conference for 2001, to creating a white paper of what is going on in the telecom regulatory legislative realm in Canada. And, of course, there is the matter of generating members.

But the objective is not to get members,” says Mr. Fahey. “The objective is to find the services and the members will come.” CS

Janine Strom is Editor of Cabling Systems magazine.


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