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Backup power for cell sites

Discussion in 'GENERAL Wireless Discussion' started by charlyee, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. charlyee

    charlyee Ultimate Insanity
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    Yesterday evening a fellow forumite lost power for 4+ hours and his phone remained working; since a major part of my job is to ensure uninterrupted power supply to operations I was more interested in what type of back up his cell site might have than his plight of sweltering heat (sorry Matt. :p).

    Typically there are backup batteries and/or UPS for short term back and diesel generators for long term, so my question is two fold, what is the minimum backup requirement for a site and what is the typical?

    Thanks much :)
     
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  2. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    Haven't we had this discussion before? :)
    At minimum, battery power provides a few hours to most every site. This is the standard solution for T-Mobile and Sprint. After those few hours, either they roll in a generator to the sites that don't have it, or they go dark.
    AT&T and Verizon more often than note have backup generators on site. I've seen diesel, propane, in shelter and out of shelter. Naturally, the primary site we use back in NY doesn't seem to have any backup power, lol.
     
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  3. charlyee

    charlyee Ultimate Insanity
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    Nah! We have never had this discussion before. :p

    Define "a few hour" please, remember I am an engineer I need specific data. :D

    Thanks for your reply.
     
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  4. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    It really depends on load. It could be 45 minutes under extremely heavy use, or maybe 4 hours.
     
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  5. charlyee

    charlyee Ultimate Insanity
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    Thanks much, but I believe we are talking about two different things. ;)

    Absolutely the actual backup time depends on the load as you mentioned, however what I am looking for is the minimum requirement by either the concerned agencies or the the equipment itself.


    As an example, one of our precesses requires a minimum of 40 mins of backup time and the reason behind it is that it takes 30 mins to systematically power down the process so that there is no data lost or any startup problems.
     
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  6. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    Oh, uh....well I guess they would want it to go for as long as possible, but there is no minimum that they establish. Some sites don't have any backup at all. They probably shoot for about 4 hours, as that will last for the duration of the average power outage. Then again, there are times where you see an entire cabinet full of batteries:

    http://forums.wirelessadvisor.com/a...8-gallery-hot-link-thread-ignore-p1060206.jpg
     
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  7. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    What I am posting below is company confidential material, please don't show it to anyone outside of this forum, because I could lose my job.

    Here is a schematic taken from a major cellular operator, diagramming in detail their back-up power supply. There are some variables to consider, like size of the dog, how much food he has, etc, but generally, they can last for more than 4 hours, so I assume this is what was being used during the power-outtage in your neck of the woods last night.

    [​IMG]


    The cheaper USB ones will only last maybe an hour at best....

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. charlyee

    charlyee Ultimate Insanity
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    Lol RR, thank you for highly confidential schematics. If I understand it right from you and Yankees that there really is no set minimum requirement like there is for our process and that typically 1-4 hours is standard.

    Another related question, are there any sites with built in backup generators or are portable ones the norm?
     
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  9. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    No minimum. The US government tried to mandate 8 hours minimum, but that did not work. Some sites go beyond backup generators, I think Sprint has some fuel cell and solar sites.
    The only time I have seen built in generators are on Verizon sites, where the generator was built into the shelter. Most sites have either permanent or portable outdoor generators. Here are a few examples.

    Built in:
    http://gallery.wirelessadvisor.com/showimage.php?i=4277&catid=searchresults&searchid=6264
    http://gallery.wirelessadvisor.com/showimage.php?i=4278&catid=searchresults&searchid=6264

    Here is one on a roof in Manhattan:
    http://gallery.wirelessadvisor.com/showimage.php?i=6768&catid=searchresults&searchid=6267

    Permanent on site, non-shelter:
     

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  10. RadioRaiders

    RadioRaiders RF Black-Belt
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    Yea, there is no set standard really. Generally speaking, the operators usually have a few back-up batteries on-site to handle short power outtages, like in the range of a few hours at best. Usually, there's not much room on-site for generators, and then there's the added cost of them as well.

    Cellular networks, like most other civilian communications systems, aren't really designed for major disasters or long-term power failures. In distaster scenarios, like massive flooding, mobile cell-sites would be rolled out with satellite up-links to switches in non-disaster areas. Or military could be brought in with their own self-supporting communications networks. Satellite phones like Iridium or INMARSAT are also very useful in cases like that.
     
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  11. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    Charlyee,

    You are right - there currently is no mandated requirement on whether or not carriers must provide any backup power at their cell sites. In 2008, the FCC wanted to mandate carriers to have a minimum of 8 hours of backup at every cell site, but they were quickly shot down by various wireless carrier coalitions. VZW was the only (or one of the only) carriers actually in favor of this FCC mandate.

    As far as built in generators go, in some states VZW has generators at ~90% of cell sites, in others (mostly metro areas where space is an issue), the figure drops. NEXTEL had generators at many of their sites. From what I see and hear, at&t has generators at sites in some of their higher usage areas (along major thoroughfares, etc.) but generators are not the norm.

    For many years now, VZW has used shelters with generators enclosed inside the shelter, whereas older sites have a generator sitting outside the shelter. at&t I have not seen build generators inside their shelters (they are either on the outside or there is none), same for NEXTEL. In areas where Sprint 'synergized' on NEXTEL sites with generators, Sprint has often connected their equipment to the existing backup power as well, which was an advantage to the NEXTEL merger considering Sprint had very few sites with generators.
     
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  12. Yankees368

    Yankees368 Compulsive Signal Checker
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    Very good post! I fully agree with everything said. I have never seen a Sprint CDMA only site with a generator, only at sites that are shared with Nextel. Verizon goes out of their way to install generators, as I have seen them on the roof of adjacent buildings multiple times. (except my local NY tower, of course).
     
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