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Remote Monitoring Systems For Telecom Towers

Andrew Erickson
Andrew Erickson
Applications Engineer

Do you provide service to thousands upon thousands of people through your telecom towers? If so, you know just how important reliability is. It doesn't matter where your towers are - in rural or in urban areas - your customer counts on you for reliable coverage.

For so many people, wireless coverage is a huge part of their everyday life. For that reason, they aren't forgiving when your service lacks quality. One offline tower can make the difference between happy customers and losing them to your competitors forever.

Are you wondering how you can ensure the reliability of your telecom towers? A good remote monitoring system gives you visibility over all of your equipment and tower sites.


Monitoring equipment at your tower sites quickly pays for itself. Advanced remote site monitoring equipment can quickly notify you when something is wrong through automatic, detailed alerts.

Why Should You Monitor Your Telecom Towers?

The first and most important reason for you to monitor your tower sites is: to not let your customers be the first ones to tell you about a network outage. When you're the first one to know about any problems occurring with your equipment, you're protecting your revenue.

There are, however, other issues not directly related to your towers.

Problems like these are the reason why you need instant notifications about any issues at your sites, and deploying a competent remote monitoring system into your network is the way to go.


In this copper theft monitoring system, door and motion sensors report to the local NetGuardian alarm remote, which then triggers image capturing from the SiteMon IP cameras. All alarms are reported to the T/Mon master console at your central office. You can also receive text messages or email alerts.

What If Your Tower Is Less Than 150 Feet Tall?

Your towers don't need to be more than 150 ft (or whatever height your local regulators enforce) to be monitored. As a matter of fact, monitoring protects everything at the tower site, not only the tower lights.

Physical safety of the building, and immediate alerts for events such as fire or electrical outages should be monitored.

Important communication equipment, such as switches, routers, fiber optic equipment, and microwave radios are common at tower sites. Without proper monitoring, there's a risk of gear damage and theft.

Your monitoring activities should include controlling physical access and preventing theft with the use of a Building Access System, with integrated video surveillance.

What Should You Be Monitoring at Your Tower Sites?

The most important monitoring areas for tower sites are:

The secret to achieving effective operating conditions for safe and reliable service is to make sure that all of this is running correctly. Interference with any of these key elements may cause serious problems and massive costs.

How Do You Know If You're Prepared for Tower Site Failure?

It's always better to be safe than sorry. As I said before, it's really important to be prepared for the worst: break-ins, equipment failure, tower light failures, and fires.

To prevent and/or handle these problems in a timely manner, it's essential to deploy a competent remote monitoring system.

A typical system is composed of a fleet of Remote Telemetry Units - or simply RTUs. They collect alarms from your microwave communication equipment and send them to your alarm master. These units are a crucial part of your monitoring system, because they provide your alarm master with the data it needs to inform you of an outage via email or text message.

The fundamental components of an effective tower site monitoring system RTU are:

To be able to deal with tower site failures, it's essential to find a remote monitoring system that is equipped with all these features.

Automatic notifications will deliver to you the information you need in a timely and effective manner. It's crucial to have this information at your fingertips - whether you're in an office or not. Dial-up and LAN connectivity with a web browser interface is the most cost-effective and convenient way to collect alarms. UPS (short for Uninterruptible Power Supplies) for RTUs make sure that you'll always have these monitoring and notification capabilities.


Your monitoring system should have clear desktop interfaces and support for remote smartphone notifications.

What Should You Look for in an RTU for Your Telecom Site?

When looking for an RTU vendor, it's important to remember that, although there are many RTU manufacturers in the market, most of them won't give you a perfect-fit device for your facilities. Some units will be built for corporate IT environments in air-conditioned data centers, not for remote industrial mountaintop sites (or vice versa). Some other devices won't support the type of transport or protocol you need.

While searching for a perfect-fit device for your unique network, have the following things in mind:

  1. Power input voltage

    What power voltage do you have available at your tower site? Most likely, it won't be 110 VAC, so plain "IT" RTUs won't be a good choice for you. Find an RTU that supports -48 VDC, or +24 VDC, or that can be personalized to support whatever you need it to support.

  2. Form factor

    How much rack space do you have available? Is it 19" or 23" wide? If the rack is full at your site, can you mount the device on a wall? Get an RTU that you can accommodate physically.

  3. Inputs

  4. How many contact closures do you have in mind? How many analog signals do you need to monitor? Will you only need a single temperature sensor or do you need to mount several throughout the facility? You need monitoring hardware that can cover all the vital gear and environmental conditions at your tower site.

  5. Outputs

    Do you have equipment that can be managed with contact closures? If so, you'll want an RTU with control relay outputs to cover each piece of your equipment. Make sure to find a remote alarm device with the right outputs for what you need.

  6. Transport

    Is your analog microwave transmission gear old? Do you need serial connections for them? Do you have IP overhead channels on your digital microwave? All of these possible scenarios require a different RTU transport.

  7. Protocol

    Dictated by your transport capabilities and alarm master, you need to choose a compatible protocol. You might need an older one, such as TL1 or TRIP, if you have older gear still in use. However, you probably want something newer if possible, such as SNMP or DNP3. It's extremely important to make sure your RTU supports the necessary protocols to communicate effectively in your specific network.

Can You Really Expect to Be Able to Find an RTU That Meets All Your Requirements?

Knowing what to look for in a vendor is the first step in finding the RTU that you need. Here are a few good points to keep in mind:

Do You Really Need a Master Station?

Good RTUs are essential for your remote monitoring system, and you'll probably be able to manage them yourself if you have fewer than 10 or 12 units. With just a few facilities, you can have your RTUs send you text messages or emails when there's something wrong.

If you have 10 or more units, though, you really should consider some kind of central alarm collector that will help you manage alarms throughout your network. Although, just like for RTUs, there are some key points that you need to keep in mind when shopping for master stations:

Don't Be Fooled by Devices with "Self-Monitoring" Features

Many infrastructure devices have embedded "self-monitoring" capabilities. This may seem like a good idea - it's certainly better than no monitoring at - but there are some negative impacts you should consider before making any decisions:

In a nutshell, it doesn't really matter what RTU you choose to compare against embedded "self monitoring". You'll be in better shape with almost any dedicated RTU available vs. using embedded monitoring built into your network system.

How Will You Justify the Costs of Monitoring Your Tower Sites?

Sometimes, it's hard to convince management to allow budget money for buying a remote monitoring system. After all, it's not the kind of purchase that will directly affect your revenue (even though it indirectly does in a big way).

However, what your company needs to keep in mind is that alarm monitoring for your tower sites is actually an investment that will help you avoid unnecessary expenses.

As you know, FCC fines for tower light outages, windshield time, and downtime are costly. All of this could be prevented and avoided with high-quality tower site monitoring. Not to mention that a reliable monitoring system will provide you with other benefits, such as more visibility over your systems, more control over site devices, and more reliability for you and your customers.

Why Not Start Protecting Your Telecom Towers Now?

It's one thing to know that your tower sites need to be monitored, but it's a completely different thing to know how to monitor. At DPS, we help you solve this "how" issue.

We have advanced RTUs that can be tailored to suit your tower and equipment monitoring requirements, integrating perfectly with your existing gear. The NetGuardian 832A G5 is a good example of a high-capacity RTU that can receive alarms from a variety of equipment and report it to your master station. Your NetGuardian will send you detailed notifications 24 hours a day, so that you'll always be the first one to know of any trouble.

Do you need a master station to keep track of all the RTUs at all your tower sites? Our T/Mon is a multi-protocol master that supports more than twenty-five open and proprietary protocols. It doesn't matter which "language" (protocol) your RTUs or other vital equipment use, T/Mon will be able to communicate well with them - and it'll be doing this from your central office.

Safety can be a major concern as well. We offer you the Building Access System to help with that. This system makes sure that your site remains secure when no one is supposed to be there. Protect your site from copper theft, break-ins, and vandalism. With keypads, door sensors, and security cameras, you'll know exactly who has been at your tower sites.


In this application, your doors are being controlled with proxy readers and/or keypads. Those entry devices are connected to an ECU G3 (Entry Control Unit), which decides whether or not the door should be unlocked after an entry attempt. The ECU communicates back to the NetGuardian 832A RTU that is also monitoring equipment alarms and environmental sensors. The NetGuardian pushes user profiles into the ECU. User profiles are originally databased into the system from the central T/Mon master station.

It doesn't matter which challenges you're facing. We've just about seen it all. We can work with your specific requirements to help you achieve a perfect-fit solution for your remote monitoring needs. Don't hesitate to start your path to better network visibility, call DPS today.


Get a Custom Application Diagram of Your Perfect-Fit Monitoring System

There is no other network on the planet that is exactly like yours. For that reason, you need to build a monitoring system that's the right fit for you.

"Buying more than you need" and "buying less than you need" are real risks. You also have to think about training, tech support, and upgrade availability.

Send me a quick online message about what you're trying to accomplish. I'll work with you to build custom PDF application diagram that a perfect fit for your network.


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