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Tower Site Monitoring FAQ

by Mac Smith

Q. What should I be monitoring at my tower sites?
A. The 5 crucial monitoring areas for tower sites.

  • Environmental conditions
  • Power conditions
  • Telecom and transport equipment
  • Building and facility alarms
  • Tower lights

Security and access control, battery level controls, tower light controls, fire and smoke alarms, and ,environmental sensors provide pertinent environmental information from equipment sites. The key to effective operating conditions for safe and reliable service is to ensure that these devices are running correctly. Disruption with any of these components will lead to serious problems and massive costs.

Q. What threats am I facing without Tower Site Monitoring?
A. There are 2 major threats to tower sites:

  • Fines and liabilities that arise from tower sites with little to no monitoring
  • Threats that will affect your day-to-day operations

When a tower light fails, the FCC requires that you notify the FAA within 30 minutes or risk being seriously fined. And if a fire or smoke alarm fails to go off, you must respond quickly to minimize expensive equipment damage. Day to day operations can get backed up in fixing outages. If there is chronic downtime and service outages, customers may move onto the competition.

Q. How do I know if I'm prepared for Tower Site failure?
A. You should be prepared for the worst:
break-ins, equipment failure, tower light failures, and fires. The essential components of an effective tower site monitoring equipment are:

  • Automatic paging
  • Dial-up and LAN connectivity
  • UPS backup power
  • Web browser interface
  • Text messaging alerts

Finding the right RTU that is equipped with all of these features is pertinent to dealing with tower site failure. Automatic paging and text messaging alerts get you the information you need in a timely and effective manner. Whether you're out at a site or in an office, you should have this information at your fingertips. Dial-up and LAN connectivity with a web browser interface is the most cost effective and convenient way to collect alarms. Uninterrupted power sources (UPS) for RTUs ensure that you will always have these monitoring and notification capabilities.

Q. What kind of notification can I get with the right tower site monitoring equipment?
A. Fast and reliable notification is essential for effective threat management.

Quality presentation and notification from alarms ensures that you have complete control over your whole system. Making sure that your workers are speeding repairs to cut down on downtime and windshield time. Every minute counts when you are risking not only your time but your clients' as well. With the use of web interfaces, notification is fast enough to meet the FCC timeframe of 30 minutes, and may cut it down to 30 seconds. Key alarm presentation and notification of detailed diagnostic information paging, email, and text notifications can all be done through a centralized command console, like
T/Mon NOC. This allows you to collect, process, display, and forward alarms, view network status, issue commands to remote site control relays, and send notifications to maintenance staff.

Q. How can I justify the cost of monitoring my tower sites?
A. Alarm monitoring for your tower sites is an investment that will help you avoid unnecessary expenses.

FCC fines for tower light outages, windshield time, and downtime are costly. All of them can be prevented with high-quality tower site monitoring. Additionally, a reliable tower site monitoring system will provide you with benefits like more visibility over your systems, more control over site devices, and more reliability for you and your customers.

Q. Do I have available transport (backbone) that can receive alarms?
A. Data transport doesn't have to be a barrier to improving your tower site monitoring.

Dial-up and Serial are common, inexpensive, and usable transports for receiving alarms. For some sites, microwave is the only means of communication available. Avoid extra rewiring by deploying dual interface remotes, like T/Mon NOC. Mediating existing equipment into alternative data paths with multiple interfaces through LAN can be easy and inexpensive.

Q. If my tower is less than 150 ft, do I still need to tower site monitoring?
A. Tower site monitoring protects everything at the site, not the just tower lights.

Physical safety of the building, and immediate alerts for events like fire or electrical outages should be monitored. Important communication gear like switches, routers, fiber optic equipment, and microwave radios are common around tower sites. Without tower site monitoring, there is a big risk for equipment damage and theft. Your monitoring activities should include controlling physical access and preventing theft with the use of a Building Access System, with intergrated video surveillance.