Assessing Telecom Site Automation with Asentria

telecom tower blog cover Asentria

Mobile network operators are currently expanding and upgrading their networks to 5G technology to provide widespread coverage, especially in densely populated cities. The demand for mobile data is rising, making network reliability and resilience of these networks key priorities. Recent pandemic and natural disasters have highlighted the importance of keeping cell sites operational, as emergency calls cannot connect if there is equipment failure or loss of power. Monitoring the status of numerous cell sites is a significant challenge, and traditional alarm systems are no longer sufficient. Modern telecom systems are complex and require automation and remote control to ensure they remain functioning.

Overview of Asentria

Asentria is a telecom site automation company, building on our three-decade history as an RTU or remote terminal unit company. While we were primarily known as an RTU company 20 years ago, we then evolved to offer remote monitoring systems (RMS) or remote site management (RSM) devices to our clients. Now, as we continue to expand our capabilities, we view ourselves as a comprehensive telecom site automation company. We provide our clients with automated solutions for telecom sites, helping them optimize performance and reliability. While our name might have changed over time, our core expertise in RTUs has been a critical component of our evolution into a leading automation solutions provider.

Changes to Telecom Sites and IoT Devices

The traditional use of RTU devices in cell tower sites was limited to alarming and providing basic data about problems with power, security, and environment at a site. Over time we have now progressed to delivering telemetry data along with fault notifications, allowing for a more thorough understanding of site issues. This means that troubleshooting teams can have access to up to 50 different power variables to help them identify and resolve problems. This telemetry data also means that we can move beyond just ensuring network reliability, and focus on improving the efficiency of remote sites. By comparing the performance of different sites, we can optimize their performance and improve overall network efficiency. This telecom site automation solution is useful for a wide range of telecom networks, including mobile network operators, tower leasing companies, utilities, rail, oil and gas, and public safety entities. Essentially, anyone that operates a telecom network can benefit from the advanced capabilities provided by these automation solutions.

Collecting Data from Cell Sites

Telecom site automation solutions support two-way communication between operations centers and site operators. We deliver critical data from power, security and environmental sub-systems, providing a central place to monitor this information for alarming purposes. Our clients are also utilizing these solutions for generator control, enabling precise control over when generators run to ensure adherence to noise restriction ordinances or to prepare for natural disasters. Additionally, we offer direct DC reboot capabilities, enabling telecom sites with the ability to reboot any device that may be malfunctioning.

One of the major challenges that we have seen, particularly during recent hurricanes, is the need for reliable generator backup power. While sites may still be operational, their uptime is largely dependent on the availability of fuel and battery backups. Our solutions help address this issue by providing critical information about battery capacity and generator run time, enabling operators to optimize site operation based on ongoing power needs. This is essential for the safety and protection of individuals during emergency situations, ensuring that critical communications continue to be delivered even in adverse weather conditions.

Natural Disasters Calling a Need for Technology Advancements

The devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy triggered a significant evolution in the functionality of our devices. The hurricane highlighted the challenges of managing thousands of sites operating on backup power, revealing weaknesses in data management and control. Alarms were the only way to monitor fuel levels, with little information about the amount of fuel available at any given site. This underscored the need for better-efficiency elements and disaster recovery capabilities.

Our hardware devices have evolved significantly since our early days as contact-closure alarm units. Today, the hardware device includes card slots that allow for the integration of up to 40 different interface cards, enabling the use of diverse interfaces in network sites. The challenge of interfacing with different types of generators, for example, has become more complex, requiring a greater level of engineering and integration to ensure compatibility across different networks.

By overcoming these challenges, we have been able to deliver advanced hardware solutions that meet the needs of a wide range of clients. From disaster recovery to efficiency optimization, our device interfaces provide data that can be used to optimize site performance and ensure reliable communications, even in the face of severe weather or other disruptions.

System Flexibility and Adaptability

Power is a core application of telecom site automation and it’s often the first thing organizations turn to when looking for solutions. This is due to the far-reaching impact of power outages at sites, which can lead to significant disruptions in services. As more companies explore these systems, their focus may shift to other applications such as security and environmental monitoring. As access to data grows, organizations are beginning to ask questions about the most efficient ways to use energy.

powerboss controller group

(Image: Examples of Asentria PowerBoss Power Controls)

Regardless of which type of application they need, telecom operators recognize the value of reliable telecommunications solutions. Automation capabilities allow them to monitor performance and optimize site operations in real time, ensuring that downtime is minimized and reliability remains optimized. By using advanced telecom site automation solutions, organizations can harness data for power management efficiency and ensure optimal performance across their networks.

Industry Priorities for Telecom Solutions

Different industries have different priorities when it comes to telecom solutions. Public safety entities are primarily concerned with reliability, while efficiency may be less critical. Telecom operators, on the other hand, often prioritize efficiency in their operations. For example, switching between power sources might be prioritized to sustain a site’s operation for a public safety entity, while a mobile network operator may prioritize the ability to switch to an alternate power source temporarily to reduce energy consumption.

One concern remains critical across all industries: power. The reliability and stability of power sources are essential for ensuring the continuity of operations and maintaining access to critical services. Whether it’s managing fuel deliveries during disasters, monitoring generator run times, or identifying energy-saving opportunities during regular operations, managing power successfully is a priority for every industry. By leveraging advanced telecom site automation solutions, organizations can harness data and automation capabilities to optimize power management, drive efficiency, and ensure optimal performance across networks.

Sharing Data to Manage the Network

The data collected from telecom site automation systems can be used to inform and improve network operations. It is important for this data to be accessible to those managing the network, as well as organizations that may contract for field work and provide maintenance services.

To ensure that everyone has access to the right information at the right time, telecom solutions must offer flexibility in sharing data. For example, reliability data could be sent to a network operations center while efficiency data may need to be shared regionally or with other stakeholders depending on the size of the network. Additionally, having transparency into key performance metrics gives all parties involved greater insight into how networks are operating – allowing them to identify opportunities for improvement and drive increased performance across their telecommunications infrastructure.

These secure data delivery methods can include REST APIs or SNMP protocols for sending data to multiple locations for different purposes.

Testing Telecom Solutions with Trials

Trials are an essential part of the telecom process and can be a great way of showing the ROI of various solutions.  At Asentria, we invite any organization interested in testing out our solutions to contact us and discuss possible trial scenarios at their sites. We understand that it can be challenging for telecom operators to pinpoint exactly what problem they need to solve or how our services might benefit them. That’s why we highly recommend performing an onsite trial and researching all available options – so that everyone involved can have a better understanding of our products and services and determine the best course of action.

Interested in learning more about how Asentria and assessing telecom site automation? Contact the Asentria team here today.

The content is a summary of the conversation between Jon Baars, Director of Sales and Marketing at Asentria and John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor on the podcast, “Assessing Telecom Site Automation with Asentria.”

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