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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > Telecom towers and their power

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landyacht318

Near a large body of salty water

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Posted: 09/11/17 09:36pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I assume cell phone towers have generators, and battery backup for when the generators run out of gas.

Does anybody know if there is a standard on how long they have to be able to provide power for?

While power was out for my relatives in Florida this morning and Friends in Charleston, SC early afternoon, I got a few texts saying they were safe and wet(SC), now texts are returned unsent, and calls go right to voicemail.

I imagine no internet ,no power, No airconditioning, no smartphone data, has a whole bunch of people In SE US contemplating a lot of things always taken for granted, well Those who still have livable structures to reside within.

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Posted: 09/11/17 09:52pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

even if the cell site can keep going the rest of the infrastructure has to keep going too. the phone system and internet connection it ties into could be out of power damaged or under water.

MEXICOWANDERER

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Posted: 09/11/17 10:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

January 17, 1994
Was thrown out of bed by the Northridge, earthquake. Ran down to the business. Checked for gas leaks, spilled batteries - all OK. Dialed my mother who lived in Reno, apologized for waking her up. The call went through instantly. Told her telephone service was bound to go down and don't worry.

An hour later the land line was dead. No call completion. Stayed that way for seven hours.

So whatever you may surmise abut what's happening to cell service in FL , it is probably protection against overloading.

skipro3

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Posted: 09/11/17 11:12pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

During emergencies, critical infrastructure services are able to commandeer cell phone services. This is done with a special phone # and code that is entered. Depending on the code, the priority can change. For example, the electric company may have one code, the fire department another, with the fire department's code being a higher priority. When all cell phone channels are in use, the code bumps a low priority user to free up the resource for the code holder.


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landyacht318

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Posted: 09/12/17 12:36am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks. My family is OK, but I imagine they are not used to being without power or phone service. I was more wondering about the tellycom towers and if there are standards for how long they have to be able to run when the grid goes down.
We talk about telecom batteries on this forum a bit, I was just wondering how long major towers can rely on battery power alone and the same about generators and if anybody here was familiar with the size of their battery banks and how long they can power a cell phone tower.

YC 1

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Posted: 09/12/17 02:11am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

No standard but a lot of conformity. Not all cell sites have generators. There are too many variables to discuss but one must consider such things as a huge increase in traffic can cause batteries to deplete quicker. Some sites may share generators with other types of communication gear as well.

With the loss of commercial power I suspect a lot of cell towers will be down soon.

There may be a few cell towers down too.


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webslave

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Posted: 09/12/17 02:16am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The FCC required 8 hours of backup power, generator with 8 hours of fuel, 8 hours worth of battery power or a combination of the two that can provide the required 8 hours.

That was in 2007, and in 2008 the OMB shot that ruling down. The net result is that most cell towers have some provision for backup power, it may only be for a couple of hours and an 8 hour backup would be the exception rather than the rule. To my knowledge, there is no federally mandated backup requirement at this time. Cell towers located on commercial buildings that have their own generators would fair much better...power for as long as the building's generators can run, if they have an agreement with the building owner to piggyback on that supply.

Despite what most people would think, cell service is actually just as problematic as a land line during a disaster and possibly more so since the loss of a single tower affects a larger area than even a bunch of wires being out and most landlines originate at telecom main buildings which have their own generator installations to keep their sensitive equipment safe. The main reason we keep a landline at the sticks and bricks.


My 2 cents, your mileage may vary...

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JaxDad

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Posted: 09/12/17 05:58am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

landyacht318 wrote:

I assume cell phone towers have generators, and battery backup for when the generators run out of gas.

Does anybody know if there is a standard on how long they have to be able to provide power for?


The infrastructure will probably last longer than the battery than the phone itself will.

Unless someone has planned ahead and has some sort of battery bank to recharge their device they only have a few hours at best, likely by the time the storm itself passed over they'd not have enough juice left to take or make very many 'I'm ok' calls.

troubledwaters

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Posted: 09/12/17 06:05am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When the 24 hour, 100+ mph, wind driven rain envelops the batteries or generator, they tend to not work very well anymore.

Sam Spade

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Posted: 09/12/17 06:49am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

landyacht318 wrote:

I was more wondering about the tellycom towers and if there are standards for how long they have to be able to run when the grid goes down.


I worked in the industry (Telecom) for about 30 years and was amazed that when cell phones really took off most cell towers had NO BACKUP POWER. A few small batteries maybe, good for 30 minutes or less.

I assume that situation has not changed significantly in the ensuing 30 years or so.

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