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UPS for Telecom Applications [Cell Towers & WISP]

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As of now, we learned to rely on telecommunications so much, that we cannot even imagine our lives without being able to use our cell phones or checking our Facebook newsfeed. We rely on this service to stay in touch with our friends and family, do banking transactions, connect with our customers, and most importantly, it needs to be available when we have an emergency.
A proper UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) backup is necessary for telecom applications in order to have uninterrupted service for its always growing customer base in the event of power failure. Generally, people will NOT understand that power outages are a valid excuse for the interruption of their services.
For those who are not familiar with UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), it’s a system that works off batteries and gives your equipment constant protection against voltage spikes and surges that commonly occur in power coming directly from utilities.
What are some aspects of a telecommunication network? This video provides a good explanation:
How does your SMARTPHONE work? Electromagnetic waves and Mobile Switching Centers - 3D Animation
Different areas of telecommunication network require different protection:
  1. Mobile switching center (MSC). This type of application generally requires a UPS system capable of delivering something between 120-160 kVA.
  2. Base station controller (BSC). This critical component of the mobile network requires that the UPS system is capable to deliver up to 40 kVA.
  3. Base transceiver station (BTS) or mobile towers. UPS for towers generally needs to deliver power up to 10 kVA. Smaller UPS systems (up to 10 kVA) could be installed into the tower itself. This device has to be designed specifically for tower mounting.

So, where do you find tower site UPS systems? Here is a nice rack/tower unit from Vertiv (paid link) that you can easily purchase from Amazon.

Cell (Mobile) tower UPS

So, do the tower sites require UPS power backup?

That depends on how you look at it. After power failure in California due to massive wildfires, Democratic lawmakers tried to force telecom companies to backup their tower sites:

… to have at least 72 hours of back-up power for all cell phone towers in high-risk fire areas.

You can read the full article here (California Could Mandate Backup Power at Cell Phone Towers). This could be quite costly for large telecom companies that do not have that much need in it unless they are faced with catastrophic events like California wildfires or Hurricane Katrina.

But in the end, nothing can be worse than being stuck without being able to call 911 when you are in need…

California’s largest wireless companies say that:

they generally make sure their major telecommunication hubs have at least between 48 hours and 72 hours of on-site backup power.

These companies do have generators on certain sites, but not at every cell tower. And if you are a smaller company, this seems to be a good trend to follow (especially in high natural disaster areas). 

WISP tower site UPS

If you are into providing high-speed internet service in rural areas, you definitely need some kind of backup for your equipment. Power outages in those areas are common and mainly caused by nature itself (icing, heavy wind, and lightning, as an example).

Having enough backup power to keep your services running until utilities kick in, just makes sense (not to mention the peace of mind you will have to know that your network is protected). This type of site needs a multi-day power backup that will provide needed energy until power from utilities is restored.

Adding UPS backup to your transmitters will significantly improve your network reliability and keep your clients satisfied with the service. There is nothing worse than having a power failure scenario that you cannot control and raging customers on the company’s hotlines.

Sending an electrician with a generator in the middle of the night to try to restore the power could end up being quite costly and inefficient since this is not a good way to do business.

If you are just considering setting up your own Wireless Internet Service Provider, Steve McKim gives a lot of good pointers and tips on how to do it:

When a WLAN Pro starts a WISP | Steve McKim | WLPC Phoenix 2018
If you have a few towers that provide a local WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) at some remote location in a rural area, natural events (you cannot control, but you can be prepared for) could easily put you out of business if you are not protected. Unless, of course, you have no competition!

Needed UPS telecom features

  • Appropriate design/mounting.
  • Full uninterruptible protection with battery.
  • Protection from spikes and surges even in standby mode.
  • Ability to scale up by adding batteries and increasing run time.
  • True Sine Wave Output (for more sensitive equipment).
  • Modular Design (for easier upgrading and tailoring to your needs).
  • Ability to check battery status remotely.

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