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Wireless telcos and power utilities work together on tower sites using modern monitoring equipment

Today, more than ever, there is a trend towards cooperation between electric utilities and wireless providers to build more cell towers. As mobile phone use skyrockets, consumers require more and more bandwidth. To improve service levels, wireless providers are increasingly working with electrical utilities to provide great service to their customers.

To provide the high bandwidth that consumers demand, 4G towers need more surface area. Therefore, newer, stronger, wind resistant towers are needed in more and more places. If you're a wireless company, you typically do not have the land to build these new towers. If you're a utility company, you have substation land that could be available for lease. You can deal directly or, more commonly, work with a "tower builder" intermediary.

Tower Utilities Diagram
The Utility company leases land to the tower builders, who in turn, lease tower space to the wireless companies.

The exchange looks something like this: the power utility companies own large plots of land. They lease that land to a tower builder for new towers. Then, the tower builder sells tower space to one or more wireless companies. This is a financial investment for power utility and is a way to improve service for the wireless company.

This seems simple enough, but there are problems lurking. These problems stem from not properly monitoring the tower and the associated equipment, as well as blurred lines defining who is responsible for monitoring each part of the system.

If you're a power utility, you need to:

  • Make sure the towers are properly monitored.
    This is to avoid potential liability. Lights are required by the FCC for airplane safety. While you contract may theoretically shield you from liability, preventing an event from ever happening is the best possible solution. A good monitoring system can alert you (or the tower builder you work with) when the lights are out so that accidents and fines can be avoided.
  • Make sure access to your substation location is tightly controlled.
    This is especially critical with NERC CIP regulations rolling out. A good Building Access System can help here. Keypads and proxy readers allow you to give temporary access to contractors without giving out a key. Once the work is done, the card can be deactivated and you don't have to have your building re-keyed.
  • Monitor your substation equipment to make sure there are no adverse impacts to your power operations
    New personnel traffic to your substation introduces new threats to your equipment. If you weren't monitoring before, the construction of a new tower is a good time to implement a reliable monitoring system. With an advanced RTU, you will receive alerts when commercial power is lost. You'll also be monitoring other threats that have nothing to do with the tower, such as generators and sensors.
  • Protect your ROI on this investment by protecting your existing revenue and reducing costs associated with the tower.
    With monitoring equipment, you will be notified at the first sign of trouble, preventing damage and saving your mission-critical equipment. Use it yourself, and make sure that all tower systems are being monitored by someone.

If you're a wireless company, you need to:

  • Take advantage of this opportunity to expand your network where you can.
    The more towers that are built in different locations, the more you can expand your services and improve quality for your clients.
  • Make sure tower is properly monitored
    If it is not, it could negatively impact your network uptime, and consequently, your service to your customers. Ensure that the tower is monitored properly, so your network is reliable and you avoid potential liability (ex. tower lights).
  • Make sure the substation is monitored by an easy access Building Access System (managed by the substation owner).
    Some sites are secured with inconvenient traditional locks and keys. The power utility may then require upto 3 days' notice (maybe more) if you want access to the site to work on your tower. If the substation uses a Building Access System that has keypads and proxy readers, advanced notice is less necessary. It's easier for you to be granted access electronically, so you're less likely to face delays or require "babysitting" by a utility employee.

It's one thing to know what needs to be monitored, but its an entirely separate issue knowing how to monitor. With DPS Telecom, the "how" is never an issue. To monitor the tower and equipment, DPS offers advanced RTUs designed to integrate seamlessly with your existing equipment. The NetGuardian 832A G5 is a high-capacity SNMP RTU that can receive alarms from a variety of equipment and report it to your Master Station in your central office. Receive detailed, 24/7 alerts from your NetGuardian 832A G5, so that you will always be the first to know of any trouble.

Need a master to keep track of all the RTUs at all of your tower sites? The T/MON LNX from DPS Telecom is a multi-protocol master that can mediate over 25 open and proprietary protocols. Use it to monitor your RTUs as well as your other vital equipment, all from your central office.

DPS Telecom also offers Building Access Systems. You're tower is more than likely in a remote spot, and with monitoring, there are days when the site is not visited. A building access system from DPS Telecom ensures that your site remains untouched when no one is supposed to be there. Protect your site from copper theft, break-ins and vandalism with a complete Building Access System from DPS. Keypads, door sensors and security cameras ensure that you know exactly who has been to your site.

Find your perfect-fit, tower-monitoring solution with DPS Telecom.

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