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The Basics of BTS Monitoring

Your Base Transceiver Stations (BTS) sites provide cellular service to thousands of people - making reliability really important. Whether your towers are in rural areas or in urban population centers, your customers count on you for reliable cell coverage.

The BTS system is the part of a GSM network that is responsible for the reception and transmission of radio signals from mobile phones.

With wireless coverage being such a large part of everyday life for so many people, customers aren't so forgiving when service is spotty. One offline tower could mean the difference between happy customers and losing them to your competitors forever.

BTS and DAS site monitoring diagram
Each of your tower sites has equipment that needs to be monitored. In this example, some of that equipment at each BTS site communicates with its counterpart at the DAS site. The NetGuardian RTUs monitor this equipment and reports any problems back to your SNMP master.

So how do you ensure the reliability of your BTS sites? Good remote monitoring and control systems give you visibility over all of your equipment and tower sites.

Let's consider an example based on the diagram above:

  1. Your optical network gear at a BTS site loses connectivity.
  2. The rack-mounted optical shelf latches a relay to report this failure.
  3. Your monitoring system detects the contact closure and sends an SNMP trap to your SNMP manager.
  4. You get a fast alert of the problem.
  5. You quickly dispatch your team to fix it.

Many infrastructure devices have embedded "self-monitoring" features, but don't be fooled. When do you need monitoring most? After an equipment failure.

But when it fails, your equipment can't monitor itself or anything else. Embedded monitoring features are usually rendered useless right when you need them.

You can use your SNMP manager to monitor all of your SNMP gear, but what about other equipment? If you have gear that does not natively support SNMP, your master won't be able to communicate directly to it.

What you need is a monitoring device that can translate discrete points, also known as dry contact closures, into SNMP messages that your master can understand. That is the job of an SNMP RTU.

Make sure that any SNMP RTU that you purchase meets these requirements:

  • Supports the SNMP version that you need (ex. Secure SNMPv3).
  • Has the discrete inputs, analog inputs, and control relay outputs to handle your BTS site scale (select a manufacturer with a wide variety of RTU options to choose from).
  • Has telco-grade build quality.

One SNMP RTU that's capable of handling BTS/DAS monitoring is the NetGuardian 864A G5 by DPS Telecom. It can take discrete points and convert them into SNMP messages for your master station. But, there are also many other RTUs to handle a variety of network needs.

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