What is Tower Maintenance?
Tower maintenance is a critical aspect of providing robust and reliable cellular services. Maintenance involves multiple procedures and checks to ensure all cell tower components are functioning optimally. Everything from structural integrity to backup generators must be regularly maintained to prevent any user-affecting downtime.
Typically, tower maintenance is the responsibility of tower companies that lease tower usage to mobile network operators (MNOs). However, sometimes MNOs have direct ownership of towers and become responsible for inspections and maintenance.
Cell tower maintenance software can go far in enhancing the procedures and data documentation involved in inspections and maintenance. This purpose-built software provides the necessary utility your teams need to follow procedures and implement the right corrective actions.
What Does Telecom Maintenance Entail?
The goal of tower maintenance is to identify and correct cell tower problems. Cell towers are highly complex assets, creating a range of possible problems, such as:
- Battery replacement: Telecom tower batteries ensure an uninterrupted power supply that covers any fluctuations with the primary grid and is charged by generators. Maintenance programs test and replace batteries to prevent downtime from outages.
- Backup generator: Similarly, backup generators must be regularly inspected and tested to avoid malfunctions when they’re needed. Part of this step is making sure they are adequately fueled, and that there is backup fuel onsite, depending on your processes.
- HVAC maintenance: The HVAC system provides stable temperatures and humidity levels for critical components that may malfunction when exposed to extremes. Evaluating and repairing any issues with the HVAC systems protects a wide range of components.
- Troubleshooting connectivity issues: Testing for any possible connectivity and implementing corrective actions is a common telecom maintenance process. This includes cell site monitoring systems, signal interferences, and all related hardware.
- Security measures: Testing or implementing security measures to protect the site from vandalism or unauthorized access is crucial. Some towers are at lower risk than others, but all towers have adequate security systems in place to keep people safe, and trigger alerts should an incident occur.
- Cables and connectors: Inspecting cables and connectors for signal loss or physical damage is necessary for the overall condition of the tower. Making any replacements or repairs is often a low-cost way to keep the tower operating effectively.
Why is Regular Tower Maintenance Needed?
We touched on why specific areas need to remain operational above, but why is regular maintenance necessary as an overall process? Let’s explore some of the central reasons why telecom maintenance is a business-critical process.
Maximize Tower Lifespan
Regular maintenance directly affects the total lifespan of a cellular tower. Checking for any issues and making repairs prevents problems from escalating further, which may result in lasting damage.
For example, addressing wear and tear, corrosion, or other structural concerns allows you to take action before the damage becomes critical. Non-structural components also need to be maintained before the tower’s functionality is compromised.
OpEx maintenance covers critical areas that can quickly escalate. Over time, maintenance maximizes the value returned from the tower and delays needing to replace it entirely.
Ensure Optimal Performance
A tower’s performance directly impacts the value it provides to the overall network and customers in the area. Frequent maintenance and inspections cover several areas that focus on performance, like antenna alignment, signal testing, and troubleshooting any technical issues.
Consistent testing and upkeep keep the tower providing reliable coverage while reducing possible interruptions. Additionally, ongoing optimization can improve the network capacity of the tower by fine-tuning systems and upgrading key components.
Enhancing a tower’s performance increases its overall service quality. MNO lease agreements often have uptime and quality stipulations, making it crucial to provide the best possible services at all times.
Government regulations often affect several areas of operating a cell tower. Ongoing maintenance is necessary to meet all applicable standards, which can cover:
- Electromagnetic emission levels
- Safety codes
- Structural integrity
Failing to comply with regulations can result in fines, penalties, legal issues, and even a complete shutdown of the tower. Maintenance helps keep you compliant while also creating documentation that may be necessary for reporting or audits.
Disaster Preparedness and Continuity
Frequent tower maintenance helps bolster a tower’s resilience to disasters and other causes of downtime. A tower with all systems operational and durable structural components will be able to withstand natural disasters and power outages.
Keeping towers operational during natural disasters also goes beyond your own business continuity, as it provides an essential service to the local community during the emergency. In extreme cases, cell service can save lives.
Testing backup power systems, correcting structural issues, and keeping HVAC systems operational all contribute to a more resilient system.