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February 19, 2016
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Tower Companies
Tower Companies are contracted to manage telecommunications towers as project managers. Part of the portfolio is to provide site management, audit services, technical support and maintenance. The African context presents Tower Companies with specific challenges in remote site management and maintenance. How can intelligent Site Asset Management solutions assist your service delivery?

Tower Site Leasing in African Telecoms

Site leasing as a business model in the mobile telecoms industry has been proliferating in Africa.

Mobile Network Operators (carriers) such as Vodaphone, Vodacom, Orange, MTN and Airtel have been divesting from infrastructure in order to focus on service delivery. Tower Companies such as Helios Towers Africa, Eaton Towers, IHS and American Tower Corporation compete to capitalise on the sale-and-leaseback market that has opened up.1

In a general lease agreement carriers will outsource the procurement, management and maintenance of a tower site to a Tower Co in exchange for a fee. Tower Cos have to effectively manage and maintain tower sites (passive infrastructure) in order to service their clients according to stipulations in a Service Level Agreement.2

Currently there are 240 000 towers in Africa servicing 70 per cent of the population. There are 145 000 off-grid sites and 89 000 unreliable-grid sites. The number of both off-grid and unreliable-grid sites is set to grow exponentially by 2020.3

Challenges Faced at Tower Sites

Inconsistent grid-power supply has negative impacts on:

Maintaining optimal levels of “up-time” (99,95%)

Operational costs (as high as 40% per tower site)

Costs to subscriber

Subscriber penetration

Acute challenges at off-grid and unreliable-grid locations include:

Reliance on diesel-fuelled generators

Diesel theft

Equipment monitoring and maintenance of existing passive infrastructure

Security and surveillance

Environmental control

Incorporating renewable energy technologies as assets [read more]

Intelligent Site Asset Management Solutions

The goal of an intelligent asset management approach is to maximize service delivery potential and benefits, while minimising related risks and costs over an asset’s entire life.

Advanced remote site monitoring hardware such as Jabil Inala’s Site Asset Management (SAM) unit can contribute to reductions in network operating costs and resilience through its integrated approach to monitoring a wide range of systems at the remote site simultaneously. By optimising the use of expensive infrastructure such as utility power, generators, security and environmental cooling, unnecessary operation costs are reduced through the implementation of a centralized management and monitoring system.

Hardware can support proactive preventative maintenance and facilitate effective interventions in case of unforeseen events such as natural catastrophes. It facilitates the systematic monitoring of assets from generators (monitoring, control, fuel consumption and theft), environmental control systems (on-site temperature and air conditioning monitoring) to batteries (monitoring battery banks). Operation costs can be reduced through more effective and informed maintenance interventions.

Software solutions such as IMQS’s Infrastructure Asset Management and Project Control System suites can be integrated with existing hardware to more effectively manage remote site passive infrastructure. Assets are centralised in one asset register that can be easily updated and are made visible through geographic information systems. Such services convert the fundamental aims of an organisation into the practical implications of choosing, acquiring, utilising and looking after appropriate assets. With the goal of managing an asset over its whole life-cycle, the problem is approached through factoring in costs, risks, performance and sustainability.

A holistic and intelligent Site Asset Management approach that integrates both hardware and software solutions facilitates more sustainable and effective monitoring and management of passive infrastructure in unpredictable environments. It increases the potential for consistent service delivery and allows for more informed decision-making through the generation and aggregation of data (business intelligence) accumulated over time from assessing site historical trends.

Is your company harnessing an intelligent approach to Site Asset Management?