Posted on 07/28/2017

The Top 7 Site Access Challenges for Telcos

When land is scarce and network coverage demand is rapidly growing, network site locations continue to be placed on non-greenfield spaces, such as rooftops. Although installing network equipment on rooftops is a practical solution to meet the growing needs of urban densification, there is one major issue that many telecom companies are finding difficult to manage: site access.

The challenges around site access encompass many aspects:

  • vendor/supplier certification
  • safety hazards and legal restrictions
  • access fees
  • scheduling errors
  • work visibility
  • landlord relationships

The “duty of care” owed by the site operator to vendors and suppliers accessing the site is a problem for which the telecoms market has been struggling to find a solution.

These are the top 7 site access challenges for telcos:

1. Landlord Relationships

Landlord relationships are a critical component of managing network sites. Unhappy landlords will inevitably issue Notices-to-Quit (NTQ), leaving site operators scrambling to find alternate locations for their sites to prevent portfolio shrinkage.

Successful landlord relationships can depend heavily on compliance with the site access terms established during the lease negotiation process. On many occasions, landlords have to intervene when site access terms are ignored, which places stress on the relationship between the landlord and the site operator.

2. Site Access Terms Violation

Vendors and suppliers typically have limited understanding of the legal restrictions and landlord agreements, resulting in fines, health and safety hazards, and frustration for both the landlord and the site operators. Certain landlords also require parties accessing their properties to pay access fees, which often go unpaid, leaving the site operator at odds with the landlord.

Site operators assume that their contracted parties will pay the appropriate fees prior to site access, but when this fails to occur, the site operator is left with an invoice from the landlord. Site operators then find themselves wasting valuable resources determining which of their vendors or suppliers failed to pay the access fee.

3. Health and Safety

A site operator should not assume that simply sending over the health and safety information is sufficient to fulfill their duty of care. Site operators must provide evidence that information was given to the vendor around the site access terms, and that each technician both reviewed and understood the information.

Because the liability falls on the party approving access, failure to provide such evidence could result in legal headaches if anything goes wrong on-site. Not only do the known health and safety restrictions need to be presented to the party requesting access, but the certifications of each technician needs to be validated to ensure they have the proper skills necessary to perform the work needed.

4. Scheduling and Granting Access

The lack of visibility into site access leads to further complications. A single site may require multiple vendors and suppliers to provide different types of work on a daily or weekly basis.

  • How can site operators prevent scheduling conflicts between various parties?
  • How do vendors and suppliers request access to sites in a quick, efficient manner?

Furthermore, without a clear system of record to track technician activity on sites, there is no immediate way to understand which tasks have been completed and which tasks have yet to be performed.

5. Outage Concerns

Without a clear view of what’s occurring on a given site, it is difficult to discern whether an outage identified in the network operations center (NOC) is a legitimate concern or a product of ongoing business.

How many times has your company dispatched emergency crews to resolve a “cell-out-of-service” only to find a transmission engineer took down the power to complete a site upgrade for one of your network operators?

6. Feedback

Those accessing the site are often the best resources to provide feedback on potential hazards found on-site. Without a method for quick and consistent feedback, future site visitors could be misinformed of site requirements and be left unprepared for their visit.

Even worse, workers could be exposed to a health and safety concern that both the site owner and site operator are unaware of. These individuals need a way to provide feedback when a hazard, accident, property loss and/or damage, or a near-miss has occurred.

7. Inventory Accuracy

To accurately respond to customer requests, it is imperative to have a clear picture of the current site inventory. This site inventory allows for more accurate capacity management and proactive modification to match demand requests.

However, without control over who gains access to a site and visibility into what actions are occurring, no one can be certain what is actually on the site. The inability to track what should and should not be on the site can hinder site providers from tracking down unlicensed equipment. This lack of tracking leaves asset integrity teams wasting countless hours auditing and re-auditing site inventory.

The Solution

Today, site operators attempt to solve the site access problem by utilizing physical lock-and-key methods, both analogue and digital in nature. However, this only solves the first level of the problem and does not address the issues around health and safety regulations, scheduling errors, or access fees.

Instead, site operators need an automated solution that allows for real-time visibility into site access requests, vendor/supplier information, scheduling information and work completed.

Accruent has been working with telecom companies around the globe to mitigate the site access problem. Using site, asset, and project management software combined with a site diary component, both site operators and the vendors/suppliers they deploy can benefit from increased visibility and communication.

With Accruent’s solutions, parties requesting access to sites can see the site’s available times via the site diary. Site operators can ensure that health and safety restrictions are read and acknowledged before they approve the site access request.

As the industry moves towards 5G and further densification, the need for a site access solution will become a high priority for telcos. Utilizing Accruent’s solutions to solve the various site access challenges, telecoms companies are able to enjoy greater control over the site access approval process, eliminate scheduling errors, prove they have fulfilled their legal obligations, validate whether their vendors and suppliers have acted in compliance with landlord terms, and efficiently understand the status of any given projects or tasks on their sites.

To learn more about Accruent’s solutions for Telecom, download this overview: http://www.accruent.com/resources/resource/solutions-for-telecom