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Thread: How do towers still operate even without local power?

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    How do towers still operate even without local power?

    I live in the Seattle area, and right now it's pitch black in my house with no power to a large majority of the Puget Sound, yet I am still able to type this post and submit it. How is that possible?

    How is the data backbone still operational? As texts and phone calls and obviously data go over the cellular network.

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    Towers have back up batteries and generators.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rojniles View Post
    Towers have back up batteries and generators.

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    Do they use a local ISP for the data connection?

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    Quote Originally Posted by skyhawk214 View Post
    Do they use a local ISP for the data connection?

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    The equipment inside the cell site has either a backup generator or batteries for backup power.

    The tower is using fiber optic for backhaul. There really isn't active equipment between the tower and the central office that the fiber is run to. Within that CO, there is a plethora of power backup solutions.
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    I agree there is a variety of power backup solutions if the main is disconnected.
    1,000 posts 2:52 p.m March 11th, 2007
    2,000 posts 8:24 a.m February 24th, 2008

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    Quote Originally Posted by TWX View Post
    The tower is using fiber optic for backhaul. There really isn't active equipment between the tower and the central office that the fiber is run to. Within that CO, there is a plethora of power backup solutions.
    It is in some markets but definitely not in all markets. Many markets still rely on the older technology for backhaul.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serial Port View Post
    It is in some markets but definitely not in all markets. Many markets still rely on the older technology for backhaul.
    But even then data centers that offer internet services tend to also have backup generators so that internet and phone service could be available even if the power is out. Been able to confirm this by hooking up my modem to backup power on several occasions, including in Lodge, SC, and connecting a laptop to the internet.


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    I was referring to the backhaul/backbone (fiber optic or lack off) for the signal transmission in the OP's second question. Not the power backup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serial Port View Post
    I was referring to the backhaul/backbone (fiber optic or lack off) for the signal transmission in the OP's second question. Not the power backup.
    That cable still needs to connect to something though, and it’s usually an ISP or landline type of service.


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    In our area on Verizon, if the landline backhaul goes out (... which it does in case of a wide-spread power outage, neither centurylink or mediacom seems to have battery backup on their hardware...the power doesn't go out too often downtown, but CL even has DSL go out city-wide if it does, i.e. presumably not even battery backup on the DSL hardware in their central office, although landline phones stay up... )... anyway, if their wired backhaul goes out, it feeds out via microwave backhaul. If you have a handful of sites lose wired backhaul this works great; of course if (like the derecho last year) you have too large an area lose service, you end up with too many sites and too large an area trying to feed out via a limited amount of microwave backhaul and get nice slow service , but definitely better than nothing.

    Of course, the sites could be getting fiber, or ISP service from someone that uses battery backup properly, but I'm sure AT&T also uses microwave backhaul, so it could be that's what's getting service to our local sites.

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    Yes I was about to say, in some locations microwave backhaul could be what’s being implemented. Generally these are for remote areas where there’s a low density of population since this method is sometimes slower.

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    Even if the local sites ordinarily use fiber or something, they may have microwave fallback.

    From what I've read, T-Mo does use microwave backhaul rather extensively (rural sites especially.)

    VZW began adding microwave to virtually every site years back, touting it's reliability (so a fiber cut that would knock out service for like 1/4 of a state for hours or few days instead just causes them unusually low data speeds..). This is true, but here in eastern Iowa, I'm like 95% sure that all these rural sites that went from 1.5-3mbps (exactly 1 or 2 T1s) to their present speeds are using microwave, there's just no rural cable, probably not fiber unless it's run down the road near enough the site, and relatively widespread DSL but usually older DSL equipment with long copper runs; so 100mbps-1gpbs+ backhaul to these sites pretty much has to be microwave. (I don't know if VZW would remove the T1s to these sites, or keep them in case the microwave failed.)

    I'd assume AT&T is doing this too as sites have needed higher and higher speeds going to them; running microwave-only (or microwave with T1 backup) to some sites as they need 100mbps+ speeds, sites where you can get fat backhaul to them kind of act as a hub with spokes going out. But while the microwave links are going in anyway put in additional cross-links where possible so it's more of a mesh with some points having backhaul, and less of a single-point-of-failure hub with spokes going out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwertz View Post
    Even if the local sites ordinarily use fiber or something, they may have microwave fallback.

    From what I've read, T-Mo does use microwave backhaul rather extensively (rural sites especially.)

    VZW began adding microwave to virtually every site years back, touting it's reliability (so a fiber cut that would knock out service for like 1/4 of a state for hours or few days instead just causes them unusually low data speeds..). This is true, but here in eastern Iowa, I'm like 95% sure that all these rural sites that went from 1.5-3mbps (exactly 1 or 2 T1s) to their present speeds are using microwave, there's just no rural cable, probably not fiber unless it's run down the road near enough the site, and relatively widespread DSL but usually older DSL equipment with long copper runs; so 100mbps-1gpbs+ backhaul to these sites pretty much has to be microwave. (I don't know if VZW would remove the T1s to these sites, or keep them in case the microwave failed.)

    I'd assume AT&T is doing this too as sites have needed higher and higher speeds going to them; running microwave-only (or microwave with T1 backup) to some sites as they need 100mbps+ speeds, sites where you can get fat backhaul to them kind of act as a hub with spokes going out. But while the microwave links are going in anyway put in additional cross-links where possible so it's more of a mesh with some points having backhaul, and less of a single-point-of-failure hub with spokes going out.
    That backend however is only part of the equation for towers working with power out. The towers still need power to broadcast and process transmission from both ends.

    To that regard, most towers have battery or generator backup for power.

    Also, sucks to hear there isnt much in way of cabling in your rural areas. SC has fiber even out in the boonies, to get internet of any speeds where i was living there-the co-op had to run fiber to my home.


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    Yeah, it's unusual here... years back, to open up telecom competition (DSL services and such), the RBOCs (Regional Bell Operating Companies) were given a choice to a) open up their local exchanges and such to competition, in exchange they can sell services outside their actual operating area.. or b) maintain the local monopoly, but prohibited from selling services outside of their actual service area. US West alone chose option B (became Qwest, then bought by Centurylink.) None of that possibility for other DSL providers using their copper and all that, that never happened here due to this.

    For whatever reason, there are telephone coops in 99 counties here, Iowa Network Services ran a fiber backbone around the state (as a kind of super-coop, INS was some cooperation between these 99 coops.. I *think* this basically runs straight to each coops central office); and IWireless (bought by T-Mobile now) was a arrangement between these 99 counties and Iowa Network Services for cellular service (must have been fun for T-Mo, 99x the paperwork for transferring over those licenses ). So, the local coop is up-to-date, you can get VDSL2 (100mbps DSL, if your line is short enough) and Iwireless was updated to LTE; if not, ranging all the way down to no DSL at all and IWireless was running GSM in that county (since buying IWireles up last year, T-Mo does have this upgraded to 100% LTE coverage...)

    Des Moines and Ames are both major internet hubs, so there's no problem getting all the speed you need around those locales; just the rest of the state where you can be in the middle of town and still have poor enough landline options (slow and costly enough) to seriously consider satellite internet (let alone mobile broadband.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwertz View Post
    In our area on Verizon, if the landline backhaul goes out (... which it does in case of a wide-spread power outage, neither centurylink or mediacom seems to have battery backup on their hardware...the power doesn't go out too often downtown, but CL even has DSL go out city-wide if it does, i.e. presumably not even battery backup on the DSL hardware in their central office, although landline phones stay up... )... anyway, if their wired backhaul goes out, it feeds out via microwave backhaul. If you have a handful of sites lose wired backhaul this works great; of course if (like the derecho last year) you have too large an area lose service, you end up with too many sites and too large an area trying to feed out via a limited amount of microwave backhaul and get nice slow service , but definitely better than nothing.

    Of course, the sites could be getting fiber, or ISP service from someone that uses battery backup properly, but I'm sure AT&T also uses microwave backhaul, so it could be that's what's getting service to our local sites.
    Sorry what is a derecho? I don’t think I’ve heard heard that word before.



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