Who Benefits from Telecom Site Automation?
As telecom site automation is a relatively new subject in the telecom tower industry, we decided to focus our first blog posts on explaining its basics, like for example the way telecom site monitoring systems work in practice, or how the telecom site monitoring equipment is deployed at a tower site. Let’s start by looking at who uses these solutions.
So who uses telecom site automation?
Telecommunication site automation solutions are most often deployed by the field operations staff of companies interested in doing remote network management of a telecom platform. The largest users of telecom site automation solutions are either mobile network operators or tower companies that lease tower sites to the mobile operators. These companies can have thousands of cell site locations where telecom site monitoring systems might be deployed.
Automation solutions are commonly used in the telecom network operated within each of these industries:
- Mobile network operators
- Tower leasing companies
- Wireline network operators
- Public safety networks
- Radio & TV broadcast networks
- Oil and gas platforms or pipelines
- Rail and highway departments
Site automation is also included in some specialized microwave radio sites related to high-frequency trading (HFT) and some military applications.
Different Users, Same Needs
Even though the purposes of the telecom infrastructure can be quite different for each of these users, from the perspective of cell site automation, they all have very similar needs. All telecom operators want to increase the resilience and efficiency of their networks.
Data consumption across the globe is continuously growing but at the same time, mobile networks operator’s (MNO) revenue is not growing at the same pace. MNO’s might place more emphasis on efficiency, as even small savings across thousands of sites can be considerable.
If you’re managing a public safety network you may focus more on reducing downtime of sites, as people’s lives may balance on the network working. Both operators might benefit from an application like the ability to remotely reboot a DC device. One telecom operator might view the ability to do the reboot as saving the cost of a truck roll, while the other might view it as a way to keep downtime to a minimum. However it is viewed, the basic need fulfilled by telecom site automation to increase network uptime at the lowest cost is common among all telecom operators.
Integrators, OEM’s, and NMS Vendors
Telecom site automation products are also frequently used by integrators or OEM providers, who will purchase this telecom tower site equipment to incorporate into their own broad solutions that they offer to the telecom operators. These solutions are frequently integrated directly into a cabinet by providers of telecom tower equipment enclosures as part of a turn-key network delivery. Specialized engineering firms who offer straight ahead expertise to build and deliver a network on behalf of one of the customer types above may just specify these devices as part of their own “best practices” designs. Often site automation solutions are used to differentiate an offering vs. competitors by offering advanced telecom site monitoring systems and control features.
It is also common for providers of remote network management software (NMS) to purchase telecom site automation equipment and roll the appliances into their larger network designs. Producers of remote network management software will frequently use telecom site automation equipment to enhance their solutions.
Often end-user customers of an NMS will wish to have values that are not natively available in an IP-based format represented via the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) in an NMS. A common example would be values from a MODBUS serial device that can’t communicate across an IP network, a new measurement from a something like a temperature or water sensor, or a contact closure which needs to be translated to an SNMP message before an NMS can work with it. Or an NMS vendor may wish to have some of the more specialized functions telecom site automation can offer like managing IP cameras, managing telecom site door access control, or allowing remote reboot of DC equipment added to their overall offering.
Often the variables represented by the site automation appliances are critical, as all direct service providing equipment (e.g., RAN, or microwave) at a site may be functioning perfectly and appear to be in perfect health within an NMS. However, power, security, or environmental problems can cause a site to switch from functioning perfectly to not functioning at all with no warning as soon as the site loses power, begins filling with water, or if the site is damaged as a result of copper theft.
Telecom site automation solutions are also in use around the world. Telecom operators in N. America and in Africa might both be interested in “managing generators” but the reasoning for doing so could be very different. In N. America the interest could relate to crisis management during hurricanes or wildfires, or ability to automate exercising of generators to stay in regulatory compliance with smog regulations. Operators in Africa might emphasize diesel theft or use of automated solutions to manage hybrid power systems to lower energy costs and green house gas emissions . Interests may be different by region but the need to increase resilience and efficiency are the same for all telecom operators.
If you operate a telecommunication platform anywhere in the world, we’d be very interested in speaking with you regarding how telecom site automation can help you increase uptime in your current network and in upcoming projects. Take the time to explore our website, case studies, white papers, and product guides and if you have any questions about telecom site automation, I’m only a click away! I can be reached most easily through this Priority Webform, which gets flagged urgent in my email.