The Best Network Monitoring Methods for Remote Sites

By July 16, 2019 August 19th, 2019 Blog
network monitoring methods

Small, medium, and large telecom companies depend on constellations of remote, unmanned equipment sites to keep their networks operating. Equipment issues at these remote sites can cause network downtime. 

Downtime can result in contract penalties, fines, and damaged client relationships. So, to keep operations up and running, companies seek the most cost-effective way to prevent equipment problems at remote sites. 

No matter the size of the network, it’s important to keep your network problem-free and without outages.

While the best network monitoring methods differ based on the number of remote sites monitored, certain principles hold true. No matter the size of the network, it’s important to keep your network problem-free and without outages.

Principles of Network Monitoring for Remote Telecom Sites

While lack of maintenance can cause high-dollar issues, most remote telecom sites don’t need all that much maintenance. Staffing each site with personnel to monitor, maintain, and repair equipment whenever the network is active—and the network is always active—is wildly cost-prohibitive. 

Instead, telecom networks rely on mobile maintenance and repair workers. Workers visit sites built on established preventative maintenance frameworks founded on historical failure data. So long as the past predicts the future, this allows workers to repair or replace any part before it fails, maintaining continuous system uptime. 

This doesn’t always work, unfortunately. The world is a complex place and can be different tomorrow than yesterday. 

Factors that Affect Equipment

Environmental factors like temperature and humidity can affect equipment. Other factors that can negatively influence equipment include dust accumulation, vibration, and flooding. 

Defective parts can malfunction. Animals, vandals, and vagrants can potentially gain access to equipment sites for shelter. Without a technician on site, any problems caused by these issues could go unnoticed until the network goes down. 

So, without staffing sites, telecom networks need a way to detect any emerging issues with their equipment which require unscheduled maintenance. They do so with remote terminal units (RTUs). These devices have a variety of inputs which can detect pre-failure conditions in equipment. When a concern is noticed, they transmit the information to where it can be acted upon by maintenance personnel. 

Network Monitoring Methods for Small, Medium, and Large Telecom Networks

While the demand for RTUs exists in any telecom network, the rest of a network’s maintenance response architecture will depend on the network’s size. Small networks are easier to manage directly with maintenance staff, while moderate networks require more organization. Larger networks will require even more centralized organization. Here’s an overview of each level:

  • Small Networks. For small networks, with approximately 1-15 remote unmanned sites monitored by RTUs, the most direct path is likely the most successful. Small application RTUs are:
    • Programmable to send alerts directly to maintenance technicians or managers via email, text, or even automated dialing. 
    • Able to support a variety of protocols, including Modbus.
    • Capable of DIN mounting, wall mounting, and other non-rack-mount options when necessary.
    • Helpful to maintenance staff, who can read alerts and weigh them against their other priorities, and respond to correct problems. 
  • Moderate Networks. Moderate-sized networks with approximately 15-100 sites need more organization. Technicians receiving alerts from dozens of separate RTUs will be unable to prioritize effectively or coordinate their efforts. Instead, RTUs should:
    • Transmit to master stations which store, prioritize, and display RTU information for managers or dispatchers to see. 
    • Enable managers to efficiently view all the issues needing attention in a single place, and plan short, medium, and long-term maintenance efforts accordingly. 
  • Large Networks. For large telecom networks, with hundreds or thousands of sites, more organization and methods for top-level reporting are best. RTUs should still transmit to master stations. These master stations, each responsible for a moderately-sized portion of the large network:
    • Act as regional hubs, coordinating responses across their geographical area. 
    • Should transmit their information to a central master station, where it is collected and analyzed for top-level decision-makers. 

A Multiple-Tierred Method of Managing Networks

This Multiple-Tiered Method of managing networks enables strategic coordination between regions for maintenance resources because it:

  • Provides managers a broad overview of the needs of different areas of their network. 
  • Offers regions the autonomy to see and respond to low-level issues which can be quickly corrected, without needing to wait for approval from above. 
  • Allows the tactical sharing of specialty resources between regions, such as heavy helicopters on contract, based on emerging needs. 

The Best Network Monitoring Methods for Remote Sites

Network monitoring methods are simple in essence—see something, say something, do something. RTUs see an issue, say something about it to a master station or maintenance manager, then technicians respond to correct the issue. 

Small telecom networks can monitor their networks efficiently using direct communication between RTUs and technicians. Larger networks must bundle and sort their maintenance needs at the regional and national levels in order to efficiently dispatch maintenance resources. 

The best network monitoring methods for remote sites ensure your networks stay online, eliminating frustrating downtime and costs associated with outages.

The best network monitoring methods for remote sites ensure your networks stay online, eliminating frustrating downtime and costs associated with outages. Telcos can utilize RTUs and master stations as a cost-effective way to prevent equipment problems. Proactively heading off equipment malfunctions at remote sites will enable your operations to experience maximum uptime.

DPS Telecom has been helping small, medium, and large telecom companies monitor their networks for decades. We have the experience and insight to help you find the ideal monitoring solution for your network. To learn more, get a quote today!


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Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson has been building remote monitoring systems for his clients since 2006, both in the United States and internationally. He has been a featured speaker at a variety of national telco, utility, radio, and rail conferences.

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