TowerXchange Issue 6

azeti Networks report on their roundtable at the TowerXchange Meetup

During the TowerXchange Meetup at the beginning of October in South Africa, azeti Networks had a unique chance to discuss best practices in fuel security with market experts from the African tower business. Among the participants were professionals from RMS and Managed Service companies, towercos, as well as representatives from companies specialised in fuel delivery, site security and power supply. 

Read this article to learn:
  • A comparison of energy costs on-grid versus off-grid
  • What percentage of fuel intended for African cell sites is stolen
  • Options to combat administrative theft, including watering down of diesel
  • Options to combat on-site theft by staff and by third parties
  • Tools at tower operators’ disposal including RMS, CCTV, access control systems with RFID or biometric,
  • upgraded or duel perimeter fencing, security patrols and improved relations with local communities 

As the demand for mobile services increases steadily around the world, the telecom industry is facing certain challenges regarding the power supply of towers. Running a BTS in densely populated areas with full access to a power grid is in most cases unproblematic, but the whole story changes in remote places, where power supply is unsteady (unreliable grid) or is not given at all (non-grid).

The installation of around 75,000 new towers around the world every year that are off-grid, shows clearly the rising importance of this topic. In some African countries, up to 80% of the tower sites have no access to the power grid. Those sites have to be powered by other sources; in most of the cases diesel generators and batteries. But the operating cost compared to grid power is tremendous.

While supplying a tower with commercial grid power costs about US$150 per month, these costs can easily rise to US$1,200-2,200 per month if the power supply solely depends on diesel, with an average price per gallon of US$4.50. This leads to soaring OPEX costs; up to 60% of OPEX is due to fuel expenditures for non-grid installations. Besides higher costs for running non-grid tower sites, another factor complicates the situation further: fuel theft.

Between 20% and 35% of the fuel intended for powering the tower site in Africa is stolen. However the theft does not take place at only one specific point; it differs by location, time and person. We distinguish between two forms: administrative theft and on-site theft. 

Administrative theft

Administrative theft accounts for 50% of the total stolen fuel. In this case, staff charged with the provisioning of diesel for tower sites are involved in criminal activities. Theft can take place at different stages of the delivery process. The fraud can already happen at the gasoline station, when trucks are not filled up correctly. Or during the transport to the site, substantial quantities (100 litres or more) can get stolen. Another opportunity to defraud is given when fuel tanks are filled up on the site. A common practice for concealing the short delivery is to replace part of the diesel by some other liquid in order to meet the billed quantity. If the fuel is contaminated with water, generator damage will be the consequence, which can easily cause costs of up to US$1,500.

One solution to tackle those issues is to outsource the delivery process to a fuel supplier together with the installation of a RMS (Remote Management Solution) based fuel management solution at the site, which gives detailed information about fuel level and purity. Another option besides the deployment of a RMS at the site would be to put one on the truck in order to maintain visibility throughout the transportation process and track down exactly where and when the fraud happens.

On-site theft

It is not only the delivery of fuel that offers a number of risks of thievery. The remote location of certain towers facilitates theft either carried out by insiders (staff) or other third parties with no work-related reason for accessing the site. The focus of criminal activities extends beyond fuel to include other siteequipment like batteries or even whole tanks. Since two different groups are involved, measures have to be more comprehensive in order to secure on-site assets.

For work-related theft, a solution to counter those incidents can be the deployment of electronic key access mechanisms including person and role based access control. By using pin pads, electronic keysor other devices with RFID or biometric features,the security level of the site can be increased substantially. An even more efficient solution would be the installation of surveillance cameras with access control as well as motion control. In addition, fuel level and also fuel contamination monitoring including energy management capabilities like generator status checks will provide a comprehensive set of measures to keep tower sites up and running.

But in some cases, thieves do not worry about concealing their theft of equipment and fuel. They exploit the remote location of tower sites and the fact that they do not have to expect resistance. In those instances, only massive security provisions can help to protect assets. The main challenge is to impede or prevent external persons from accessing the tank by means of high fences, secure containers or underground installations. A dual fence concept could pay off, including a semi-secure fence for alerting and a hardened inside area, which keeps thieves out of the shelter until security patrols have reached the position.

Maintaining a relationship with the local community could also help to prevent site downtime by integrating locals into tower securing measures and explaining how they benefit personally (network coverage, phoning).

As mentioned before, batteries are also considered to be a target for theft, each worth of about US$5,000- 20,000 per site. In order to reduce incentives for stealing batteries, one way could be not to source batteries inside the country. This means you’re not supporting the creation of a local market for stolen batteries. Underground installations or even concrete shelters would help to discourage external persons from entering the sites violently, as would the deployment of a RMS with energy management features including DC control combined with access control.


The theft of diesel or tower equipment is a widespread problem that needs to be addressed with appropriate measures. Specific threats require adjusted solution approaches. The deployment of a RMS with fuel management features would help to decrease administrative fuel theft. If this solution is extended by a role and person based access control system, theft committed by insiders could be lowered. Keeping external parties out of the tower site proves to be more difficult, since they have the advantage of the remote tower location. Therefore, only a combined solution that comprises underground installations or concrete shelters and camera-secured fences will be an effective protection.

Thanks to Thorsten Schaefer, CEO of azeti Networks AG for preparing this report.


M2M Journal 19

Densely populated places around the world experience the same problem: their local transport infrastructure cannot accommodate the growing number of motor vehicles on the road, which inevitably leads to gridlock. Therefore London, as the first major city, levied in 2003 a congestion charge in order to reduce those traffic jams while also helping to decrease CO2 emissions.


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Adding Intelligence to the Road

This city toll is only a reaction to the current situation, but it does not address the basic problems. Car owners have only incomplete information about the current amount of vehicles in a certain area and the corresponding number of available parking spaces. This will be followed by an insuffi cient coordination among them, which prolongs the period of searching for a free parking space and also increases fuel consumption as well as CO2 emissions. Both of these problems are avoidable by deploying the MyParkSpace solution from azeti Networks shown at the Vodafone booth at CeBIT and also at Vodafone Innovation Days in Düsseldorf.

With the on-street installation of magnetic field sensors, azeti Networks is adding intelligence to the road. The sensors detect changes in the earths magnetic field indicating if a vehicle occupies the parking space. This will be verified by a second infrared measurement working as a failsafe. If, for instance, snow or other objects than cars are covering the sensors, they will not detect anything, since there is no change in the earths magnetic field. Furthermore, the sensors are flush-mounted on the road, ensuring that they remain at the place where they have been installed. For the rollout process, no special tools are needed. The mounting can be done by using the same equipment as the road maintenance depot requires.

Once on-street installation has been completed, the sensors start to communicate with the network and send information about the current status of the parking bay. In detail, data on occupancy, location and duration are provided. This will be forwarded to an application, which allows mobile users to check if a parking space is available nearby or even to determine the duration of parking their car and costs that will be charged.

This solution will not only help to cut the time of finding a parking space, but will also help to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of every car owner. Additionally, people can decide upon the information provided, if they want to take their car or switch to public transportation. My Park Space can also facilitate the billing of the parking period by charging car owners only for the time that they used the parking space. Furthermore, information, such as special events, where those parking spaces are unavailable or the application of different fee models based on duration as well as time of day and day of week are possible. Besides looking for free parking bays, the time-consuming search for ticket-machines can be shortened.

With the MyParkSpace solution, azeti Networks is paving the way for a smart parking guidance system in cities and contributes to the sustainable development of local transport infrastructure by improving the carbon footprint and by saving costs for car owners.


TowerXchange Issue 5

Adding intelligence to BTS site management

Integrating monitoring and management, access control, maintenance, asset, inventory and HR management in an end to end managed service. 

Site management experts azeti reckon there are 8m telecom towers worldwide, of which 640,000 are dependent on generator power, rising to 1m in the next two years. To serve this market, azeti has developed and deployed together with azeti’s business partner Lemcon Networks the cost efficient SiteOne solution for network management, based on azeti’s proven SONARPLEX product line. 

Keywords: Who’s Who, Managed Services, Access Control, Monitoring & Management, Opex Reduction, Batteries, Fuel Security, Air Conditioning, ESCOs, Site Visits, Asset Register, RF-Units, Community Power, RMS, Site Management System, Asset Lifecycle Platform, Job Ticketing, Spare Parts, azeti, Lemcon 

Read this article to learn:
  • How azeti’s intelligent site management capability is integrated with Lemcon’s NeXsysOne in the new SiteOne solution
  • How to save 30%+ on the operating cost of HVAC Systems
  • How predictive monitoring extends MTBF
  • Integrating with a zero capex energy service business model and working with the local community to share power and improve site security 

TowerXchange: Where do azeti fit into the telecoms infrastructure ecosystem?

Thorsten Schaefer, CEO, azeti Networks: azeti Networks AG is a global manufacturer and supplier of high-performance, intelligent site management solutions. Founded in 2006, with corporate headquarters in Berlin, azeti also maintains subsidiaries in the UK, South America, the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East. Today, more than 1,000 companies in 35 countries rely on azeti technology to monitor both their IT and physical infrastructures.

While we initially concentrated on industrial product monitoring, we now concentrate on telcos with special focus on BTS monitoring.

azeti’s unified monitoring solutions are not just limited to monitoring IT components (such as routers, switches, servers and software applications), but by supporting a wide range of sensors and detectors, we can also monitor and manage just about every sort of physical phenomenon imaginable: fuel levels and usage rates, temperatures and pressures, voltage levels and battery capacities, air quality and flooding, gages and valves... plus cameras, motion sensors, access-control devices and so on. The possibilities are virtually endless. 

Information collected from all remote locations flows via communications networks into the SiteOne console that, regardless of monitored systems’ distance and location, acquires, visualizes, controls and analyses every sort of information client companies need to precisely monitor and operate their most vital systems and equipment. In addition, It also produces management reports, analytics and historical information data. Because azeti makes use of standard sensors and industrial bus interfaces, clients can depend on an uninterrupted flow of information. And even if there should be a communications network failure, azeti’s appliances continue to run without the central console, thus assuring a complete data record.

I joined azeti in 2009 with a substantial round of venture capital financing, with an objective to internationalise the business, which had been focused on Europe. By 2010 we had 60% of our revenue coming from outside Europe.

TowerXchange: Please introduce our readers to your business partners Lemcon Networks.

Thorsten Schaefer, CEO, azeti Networks: We conducted extensive research and identified Lemcon Networks as a top star in the managed services business for telcos.

Your site management system could be the best in world, but if you don’t install, rollout and manage services in the right way with qualified people, the project will not be a success.

Lemcon Networks Ltd. was established in 2000 to focus on telecom projects. The company is part of the Lemminkainen group from Finland which has 9,000 employees and an annual turnover of €2bn. Over the years, the company has been involved in telecom network deployment projects in over 40 countries across all continents. Lemcon’s core experience comes from upgrading and expanding GSM, WiFi, WiMAX, UMTS or LTE networks. Lemcon customers worldwide include or have included Globe Philippines, Econet Zimbabwe, T-Mobile USA, Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson, Huawei, Millicom, MTN, azeti interface and the Finland based S-group. Lemcon has successfully delivered more than 200 projects worldwide since 2000. Many of these projects are complete end-to-end turnkey delivery service from site acquisition to final network operations. On-going projects include system integration type services centralised around data capacity expansions, site management, mobile network system integration, asset management, building maintenance and managed services.

Read more in the PDF.


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