The Telecom Site Automation Toolset
In my last blog post, (My Boss Told Me to Go Find an IoT Solution Management for Cell Tower Sites), I talked about one recurring theme related to telecom site automation. There are vast differences between different telecom networks and even within a single telecom network. Suppose we were to use power as an example. It would be likely that within a single telecom network, you might have on-grid and off-grid sites. You might have a solar-array in an off-grid site, one or two generators (or none), different makes and models of equipment, fuel types, rectifiers, etc. Different customers could have different business purposes. A public-safety network might focus solely on reliability. A tower company might focus on reliability and also being able to do power billing to different customers at a site more efficiently.
The Asentria SiteBoss Equipment
The SiteBoss equipment that Asentria is known for is just a tool, or maybe more accurately, it is like a toolbox full of tools. The SiteBoss unit is, by far, the most recognizable part of our company and can be found in various networks all over the world. The part that isn’t as easily seen is that someone has to know how to use these tools. Our solutions are intentionally designed to be as easy to use as possible. Still, it isn’t as simple as how many people would envision an IoT solution, where you might go to a cell site, sprinkle sensors around and get back valuable data into analytics software that reflects what is going on at that site.
What is significantly different from the idea of “sensors” is that the most valuable data from a telecom site is obtained by interrogating other intelligent equipment at a telecom site (e.g., Diesel generator controllers, HVAC controllers, DC rectifier controllers). It isn’t possible to place a homogenous IoT sensor on all the different makes and models of generators that are likely in the network and get back the data you want. The SiteBoss is highly adapted to perform this work, but like a hammer or a saw, the work that you get out of the SiteBoss is heavily impacted by the skill of the applications engineer that is using the tool. I could take a saw and hammer and make a functional planter box, but I’m far from able to do the type of finish carpentry or furniture making like someone with professionally trained carpentry skills.
Telecom Site Automation Application Engineers
The initial creation of telecom site automation solutions is due to the skill level of the Asentria application engineers who are working with the tools and integrating them into a customer’s operational environment that impacts the network’s resilience or efficiency. Interestingly, however, if you give this same toolbox to a customer in Alaska or Africa and learn how the tool works, you may very well find that once they know how to use the tools, they create new solutions specific to their environments that Asentria may have never considered.
This skill is the unseen element of what Asentria does. Beyond the applications engineers are a whole set of hardware and software engineering staff, manufacturing and logistics staff, and business people focused on delivering these types of solutions. I often feel like the real value that Asentria provides is an adjunct engineering group to a telecom operator. Often after a SiteBoss unit is widely deployed in a network, it becomes more accurately viewed as a toolbox for solving all the issues at telecom sites that are not directly part of the radio network. Asentria IS the place people can look for solutions to problems found at remote telecom sites that aren’t directly related to the telecom network equipment itself, such as power, security, and environmental issues. We even have solutions directly related to the telecom radio equipment, such as DC reboot and remote out-of-band access.
At Asentria, we have broad experience developing these solutions specifically for telecom operators. We work as a specialized engineering group for our telecom customers, making it simple and easy for the solutions to work. If you have challenges you’re trying to address at your remote sites; we’d be happy to discuss with you the solutions we’ve created for other customers.