The Cellular Industry And Lightning Protection
The cellular industry has many challenges that are misunderstood by the general public. Ask most people how the telecommunications industry works and they will say that their phone receives information from a network, and connects them to others as a result. The lack of understanding of the challenges faced by the industry itself leads many to switch carriers whenever they are presented with spotty coverage during and after inclement weather; this ultimately being a result of a natural phenomena that happen to any carrier. These challenges are due in part to the physical makeup of the towers themselves and not the carrier or any fault with their service. The tower is positioned within range to receive and transmit signals to your device on the ground. That tower is made of materials that can conduct electricity, as a result of the need to remain strong and able to withstand the highest wind and rain. At the top of that tower is a group of devices that make up part of a distributed base station architecture, “remote radio heads”, which receive and transmit signals to users on the ground. That equipment group is directly connected to the rest of the architecture, the “base band unit”, at the base of the same tower. This equipment group processes your signal data and provides a direct connection to the network itself. When a lightning strike to the top part of a cellular tower happens, which is a perfectly natural occurrence, the result can be damage equipment not only at the top but throughout the system. This is due to the connectivity lines that join that equipment chain together, as well as the structure they are all connected to. A strike produces a significant amount of damage at the strike point itself, in the form of explosion and fire, but the subsequent damage to equipment as a result of the power surge which follows must also be taken into consideration. While the isolation of damage to the strike point would be already negative with regards to losses, the power that follows a strike moves to additional connected equipment and exacerbates the issues. Surging power flows along those connectivity cables and damages the circuitry of equipment far from the strike point, meaning that far more equipment must be repaired or replaced. This will also increase the amount of time that is necessary to restore that tower to functionality, ultimately resulting in unsatisfied customers and potential revenue losses as a result. Only through mitigation efforts can these types of losses be stopped.
Mitigation in the cellular industry involves the installation of “lightning protection” along the pathways that electricity can flow. These surge protection devices prevent the flow of electricity top other equipment if a surge outside of a safe range is detected. This prevents the subsequent damage downstream from happening and allows restoration to be completed in a faster time frame. These lightning protection measures ultimately pay for themselves in savings over time, of both equipment damage costs as well as customer retention. The revenues that are saved as a result can many times be the difference between business success or failure.