Buying new gear? Here’s a guide to what you need to
think about to keep it working reliably, no matter what.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT HARDWARE
If you consider some high-level failure scenarios, you
can determine how durable your hardware will need
to be. Common hardware solutions that increase the
strength of your system are:
• back-up power source/s generators and batteries,
• duplication of site equipment so that no single site
failure has significant impact on your coverage or
• microwave or fiber network architecture (star, ring,
hybrid, hot standby),
• specify seamless switchover during failure – ring
architecture for backhaul system.
• antenna system engineering, using multiple
antennas, combiners and multicouplers at large sites,
• redundant controllers, including geographically
• emergency radio cache, maintained and programmed
for mutual aid,
• transportable repeaters that can extend current
coverage or set up dedicated communications within
Remember that remote sites need the best equipment
you can purchase, to reduce failure and minimize
callouts during winter.
Often, low-risk system equipment gets the attention and
funding, while crucial equipment is overlooked. When
you are prioritizing your purchases, keep in mind what
breaks most often. These are:
• power (poor quality unprotected mains, unmaintained UPS or DC battery banks, untested
generators, generators with insufficient fuel
• antenna systems (bad lightning protection, poor
grounding, poor design),
• backhaul (operator/technician errors).
REPAIRS, UPGRADES, AND CHECKS
Increasing system complexity has changed the role of
system technicians. The key skills for techs are now
troubleshooting, diagnosing and resolving system failure
- antenna system problems, power problems, backbone
issues and system configuration errors.
Virtually all electronic circuit boards are now
unserviceable except in highly-specialized settings, so
field repairs are largely limited to replacing antennas,
knobs, switches, display boards, speakers, and
microphones. For all other problems, radios need to be
returned for factory-based repairs. At system level, field
repair is now limited to swapping faulty boards or even
entire devices. The ability of technicians to perform
component level repairs is no longer important, except
to maintain legacy equipment.