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The Problems and Challenges of Operating Remote Cellular Sites

We will first discuss the obvious problems, challenges and demands regarding the operation of remote telecom tower sites.

Unmanned – It is well known and quite obvious that normally all of these sites are unmanned meaning there are no security or technical personnel ever present at these remote locations. These telecom tower sites have many systems that require monitoring. These normally include communication equipment, backup generators, environmental conditions, operational status etc., therefore this is a huge and costly problem if there is no monitoring, alerting, or remote access control system in place.

Remote Locations – Normally all of these sites are in very remote locations so they are difficult, time consuming and most importantly very costly for support personnel to travel to when there are problems. When support personel are dispatched to these locations, there is no way to know if the technician was in fact the person who accessed the site or any record of when and how long they were on site. This is especially true and more difficult in third world countries which have poor infrastructures where these sites are unsecured by the lack of any real time alerting systems and remote access control.

The telecom tower sites can also be targets for theft. From fuel tanks to power generators and other high value equipment can quickly become targets. This is particularly the case in emerging markets and when sites are in these remote locations that are not equipped with the proper, fuel monitoring and security systems such as video surveillance, motion detection and access control.

This is especially true in third world countries where thieves will target these remote sites without any security systems in place by stealing fuel, striping the copper cabling and other equipment they can then get money for. Therefore the site operators have no way to know who accessed the remote sites or when the theft took place.

Real Time Status – By not having any type of remote site monitoring, alerting or remote control of the equipment these sites are extremely susceptible to not only equipment failures, but also damage due to environmental conditions. There is also no possibility to simply reboot or reset the equipment remotely. There is also no possible way to know the status of backup generators. Most critical information that would be lacking is when the backup generators are started due to power loss, how long are the generators running and most critically how much fuel is present.

Again, this is especially true in third world countries where these telecom sites are spread out over a very wide area throughout a country.

The Solutions for Operating Remote Cellular Sites

The second section of this article we will discuss the solutions to the problems regarding the operation of remote telecom tower sites described above.

Unmanned – As described above when there is no security or technical personnel ever present at these remote sites it is therefore most critical to not only have a security system in place, but also an environmental system that has the ability to monitor all of the equipment on site using sensors and will automatically send alerts when there is trouble.

Remote Locations
– Again, as described in the first section all of these sites are normally in very remote locations so to reduce costs in travel and downtime it is extremely important to have a system in place which is easily managed remotely, can perform remote tasks and eliminate the need for on-site visits. This system must also provide remote access control and video surveillance including all security requirements needed to prevent damage, theft and un-authorized access to these remote sites.

Real Time Status
– The remote site monitoring system must be capable of monitoring the real-time status of all systems at these remote sites, be capable of installations at distributed locations, but be centrally monitored and send alerts for immediate action. The system must be compatible with other SNMP (NMS) Network Management Systems and also collect sensor data for generating reports for preventive maintenance purposes. This will reduce the probability of equipment failure, but also damage due to environmental conditions.

These systems must be trouble free and completely reliable due to the risk of the investments in these expensive infrastructures.  Due to the fact these telecom tower sites have many systems that require monitoring, for example; backup generators, environmental conditions, operational status, access control etc., the monitoring solution installed must also be versatile and be able to provide all of these requirements in an all-in-one easy to implement system. 

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