White Paper – Telecom Sites Physical Security

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White Paper Introduction

This report provides details of the role of physical security in maintaining telecom networks’ reliability. For the purposes of this document, physical security relates to the situation of people directly harming a telecom site intending either theft or vandalism. Physical security is paramount for the telecommunications industry and one of the biggest challenges that telecom network operators have to face while managing their networks of base stations. This document discusses the main physical factors that may lead to network outages and some innovative approaches to prevent telecom base stations breakdown due to physical security

Part 1 – Understanding Cell Tower Physical Security Threats

Theft and vandalism are common physical threats that telecom network operators have to prepare for when managing their cell base stations. Less common, but still a concern are more coordinated efforts to damage the ability of the telecom network to operate by damaging the sites themselves.

Part 2 – Mobile Network Operators Across the Globe Taking Action to Deal with Theft and Vandalism

Copper cable theft has been a major problem for telecom operator, Telkom South Africa over the years. Back in 2016, the company admitted it had lost over R200 million ($13.8 million) due to copper cable theft during the 2015 financial year. About half of that was due to direct cable theft repair costs and the other half was spent on the cost of security services. In 2018, cable theft was still affecting South African residents and business owners, interrupting Telkom’s customers’ services. In 2019, Telkom decided to proactively move customers from legacy copper which was installed since 1974 to new fiber technology and investigate ways to remove copper from their systems. Telkom is managing the pressure of the investment cost of deploying the fiber network, with the reduction in cable theft and reduced maintenance costs, improved social impact, better customer experience, and a stronger long-term positioning of the group.

Part 3 – Telecom Site Automation – A New Opportunity to Manage Physical Threats

Telecom site automation delivers the necessary real-time management to increase the security of mobile network operator’s cell site networks. In case of physical threats like theft and vandalism, telecom site automation allows mobile network operators and tower companies to proactively act and mitigate the damage caused by the event and prioritize post-event response efforts. Here are some telecom site automation features that can help avoid, minimize consequences and deal with physical threats.


Cellular base stations are critical infrastructure components that require constant physical security monitoring. Telecom site automation is a cost-effective solution that provides mobile network operators and tower companies with improved resilience and efficiency of their telecom sites. Telecom site automation provides solutions to improve management of power, security, and environment at remote sites. Improved physical site security is only one of several major benefits that telecom site automation can provide.


This is a white paper summary, and a complete version with additional details can be downloaded in a PDF document here:

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