Surge Protection For Cell Sites
Cell sites and towers are groupings of equipment and antennas that send and receive cell signals from users and transmit those signals to a network, where a connection to other users is facilitated. The way they work is relatively simple to understand but involves many complicated pieces of equipment to execute the actual function. The cell phone in the user’s hand sends and receives signals to a cell tower or site nearby. The closer to the user the site is, the stronger the signal is. This is because the signals that are transmitted and received degrade over distances, meaning that the user must be within range of a tower or site in order to receive any signal at all, and must be close in order to receive the best signal. For these reasons, cell networks position a large number of cell sites within a specific proximity of one another, so a user can always reach a tower or installation in most areas. The issues start to happen when one of those towers goes offline, forcing users to contend with gaps in coverage that will cause dropped calls or slow speeds due to weak signals. While there is a certain amount of redundancy built into the positioning of the cell sites, there is still a significant compromise of service if a site or tower is taken offline. For this reason, network providers take all the precautions they can to avoid the incidents known to cause outages and the need for repairs. And one thing that the operators are combating is lightning strikes because cell towers and other sites are generally the tallest things in an area. This is necessary to provide the best signal to users, but also makes them a prime target for lightning.
The strikes at the top of the towers damage the equipment at the top of the installation, generally damaging the antennas, remote radio heads, and transmitters. This alone will result in damage that must be repaired to restore functionality, but the added complication of the lightning power surges comes into play. The power surges that come with a strike will travel along connectivity cables between the connected equipment and further damage the other equipment. Often the damage to this equipment is not visible, so all the equipment must be tested by field techs for viability. Because of this, the repairs and restoration to service will cost more and take longer. Cell network providers understand this and have committed to installing the most effective surge protection along the pathways from the top to the bottom that power surges generally take. These systems can minimize the damage and isolate it to the top of the site. By reducing damage, the budget can be conserved, and the cell site can be restored to functionality faster. In the cell game, every second counts.