Why cell tower security needs an upgrade

Tower companies and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the telecommunications industry know that security is the most crucial investment they will make. Protecting cell towers from the imminent threat of terrorism, vandalism, and theft is critical but uniquely challenging, in that cell towers managed by a single company are typically spread throughout large geographical regions. Tower security becomes even more complex when considering the number of maintenance workers who need access to various sites.

The importance of cell towers to our infrastructure, as well as the expensive materials used on the towers, make them obvious targets, while the remote and isolated nature of the sites leaves them particularly vulnerable. It’s an unfortunate combination that telecommunications companies have been trying to combat for decades.

Companies struggle to find a solution that not only provides high level security, but also offers a convenient way to manage multiple MNOs, maintenance workers and technicians to access numerous cell towers on differing, and often unpredictable, schedules. The current solution seems to be a jumbled assortment of keyed locks, digital combination pads, and RFID readers. All of which either compromise on security and/or convenience.

New connected security solutions that rely on the cloud for storing keys, are beginning to disrupt the telecommunications industry by providing a way for companies to manage employee access and track all interaction with the site remotely.

Connected “smart locks” eliminate the issue of key control by making a worker’s cell phone the key to all points of access he/she needs. The problem of duplicated, lost, or stolen keys is erased, and the site manager has greater insight into who is accessing which sites and when.

The audit trail and analytics that are made visible using this type of system are giving early adopters more flexibility, control, and insight, to help them reach security goals and reduce costs. Bluetooth enabled access control products, while relatively new to the telecommunications sector, are proving to be a valuable solution to an age-old problem.