Telecom Industry is at an inflection point. The last decade has seen a big momentum towards democratic access to Internet. The wave of disruption would be accelerated with investments in 5G, emergence of network virtualization and underlying technologies like edge computing. The emergence of the superfast highways with 5G necessitates closer than usual cell tower networks. Companies are building more than 300,000 towers in the US alone – more than what was built over the past three decades.
This huge network of towers requires highly visible management and maintenance. IoT enabled remote monitoring ensures deep insights in to performance, operations and returns for telecom operators. Sensors rich environment transmit real time data and this can be accessed by authorized stakeholders at a centralized locations. This is imperative with expanding networks, increasing security concerns, emerging OPEX risks and tighter service level agreements. Non visibility of the cell tower assets adds complexities and organizations are relying on IoT to deliver dashboard based insights for instant actionable insights.
The emerging challenges of cell tower monitoring
The key focus area for remote monitoring is a single window of truth about the cell tower network. Tower managers need to frequently monitor infrastructure data like the energy parameters, battery life, alarms and alerts, fuel usage and temperature of the tower site. Companies are bogged with increasing energy bills with wastage and human errors. Expanding networks are also the catalyst for security outages. Concerns like cyber security, vandalism or terrorism can compromise the entire grid. IoT sensors offers granular and bird’s eye view of the entire asset infrastructure. This keen visibility is effective for asset tracking and maintenance.
The CAPEX and OPEX risks
Companies are optimizing their capital investments by entering in to third-party agreements for managing their active and passive infrastructure requirements. Third party providers are increasingly deploying IoT enabled asset tracking and monitoring solutions to seamlessly manage and provide value added services like predictive analytics. The heightened competition has resulted in watertight SLAs that requires high levels of risk management and hedging skills.
The CAPEX and OPEX risks
Remote Cell tower management has moved away from passive asset tracking and infrastructure monitoring. Telecom companies are looking for proactive and comprehensive services that meet SLA demands. In an economy where a single hour of internet downtime may cost a business over $74000, it is important for telecom companies to keep their cell towers in top working condition. This involves leveraging the sensor rich IoT environment for deep visibility. This includes,
- Energy management – Active infrastructure monitoring like energy consumption, battery charging, efficiency of the cooling system and overall asset visibility is the need of the hour. Apart from stringent monitoring, intelligent dashboards can provide insights in to energy efficiencies and help operators switch from different power sources or cut down on usage. Temperature sensors also allow remote management of cooling system and monitor the battery charging process. This brings down OPEX numbers down.
- Onsite security – Remote cell tower sites are monitored 24/7 with infrastructure sensors and surveillance cameras. This is essential to thwart intruders and other security compromises. Periphery PIR sensors and vibration detectors are also merging as must-haves to keep cell towers safe. Smoke detectors and fire alarms also trigger alerts or sirens which can enable staff to swiftly act to quell any untoward incidents.
- Predictive maintenance – Single source of truth of asset management is the goal for remote monitoring. Multiple data sources and channels create complexities without a total 360 degree visibility. Intelligent analytics driven dashboard provide reports about deviations on asset performance and support. This would help in flagging down false positives or run preventive maintenance to avoid costly repair process.
- Effective SLA – Remote asset monitoring ensures maximum uptimes and high return on investments. Technicians can be always in the know about cell tower health and can effectively predict the asset health progression over time. Service providers can maintain the spirit of SLAs with effectively allocating human resources for management and maintenance.
Future proof remote cell tower monitoring will involve a sensor rich environment across the entire asset peripheries. It will combine data intelligence from various sources to provide the big picture. So, if the fuel cost is high, analytics about fuel with door sensors, vibration detectors and surveillance cameras can help to identify of there is fuel pilferage. This is actionable business insight that has direct impact on the bottom line.