Today’s cutting-edge frontier in the telecommunications world is coming in the form of 5G technology, the fifth generation of mobile networks, which will bring with it significantly faster data speeds when compared to the existing 3G and 4G cellular data networks. According to a recent statistic from, South Africa (as of March 2019) has over 30 million internet users, with most of its traffic being generated by smart phones.

Lightning and surge protection for cell sites as 5G moves closer

Florian Vögerl, head of sales and operations at DEHN Africa, notes, “The increasing demand for 5G technology globally brings with it the need for higher transmission capacities and better network availability. In response, new cell site locations are constantly being developed for this purpose and the existing network infrastructure is being modified and expanded. Quite obviously, cell sites must be reliable – no operator wants to risk a network failure or restricted operation.” Consumers want higher speeds and instant, reliable services, and 5G brings the promise of the required solutions as telecom providers continue to run trials and prepare their networks to cope with the huge increase in the demand for communication. 5G, however, requires a huge investment in technology, at great cost, and obviously this needs to be protected from the elements.

Says Vögerl: “When looking at any telecommunications site, we need to provide thorough protection against lightning, including the possibility of a direct strike to this very sensitive equipment, as well as its indirect results in the form of related electrical surges. Both of these can cause immediate damage, which can result in down-time to the business or service, as well as potential degradation to equipment over time. Additionally, repair costs are in usually very expensive, because the towers are mostly situated in remote areas.” According to statistics from an American humanitarian organisation (www.borgenmagazine. com), the projected number of users in Africa who would be affected by an outage is significant: there are currently around 50 million 4G subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa. However, because of the growth in relatively young populations and the fast-growing economies on the continent, this number was predicted to grow by 47 percent between 2017 and 2023, when an estimated 310 million will have subscribed.

“So as we can see,” comments Vögerl, “the number of people who could be affected by system outages is really potentially very great, and so this once again underlines how important it is to protect equipment failure. Here again we see that the correct lightning and earthing solutions are part of ensuring network availability and reliable operation. The exposed location of mobile radio masts makes them vulnerable to direct lightning strikes, which could paralyse the systems.” “Of course, damage is often also caused by surges, for example in the case of nearby lightning strikes. It is also crucial to protect employees who may be working on the system during a thunderstorm. A comprehensive lightning and surge protection concept will provide optimum protection and high system availability.”

DEHN Africa provides information and services across the various aspects of the network industry, catering in turn to mobile network operators, installers and equipment suppliers. Mobile network operators: DEHN offers system specific protection concepts, optimised product solutions and engineering and testing services to reliably protect network systems. Installers: DEHN Africa provides lightning and surge protective solutions that are quickly available and easy to install. Equipment suppliers: As the requirements for new cell site locations continue to expand, DEHN Africa is able to provide optimally tailored solutions regarding performance and cost.

“There is wide expectation that the freeing up of new 4G and 5G spectrum for local cell phone companies, as per previous information from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), will facilitate local telecom operators in meeting the data expectations of their customers. South Africans are hungry for greater data availability and higher speeds, both at business and individual levels. “DEHN Africa is already working with the major players globally in the telecommunications industry. As we wait in anticipation for the long-awaited 5G rollout to begin in earnest, DEHN Africa’s experience and expertise will allow telecom businesses to achieve acceptable risk profiles for their sites to protect their investments and facilitate a local revolution in data speed and availability,” concludes Vögerl.

Enquiries: +27 (0)11 704 1487

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