Considerations in the Protection of Cellular Radio Sites

The merits of installing effective lightning and surge protection on telecommunications towers, along with adopting good grounding and bonding practices are well established. Tower structures are often elevated above their surroundings in order to maximize coverage, thereby making them attractive lightning receptors to the vagaries of the Cloud-to-Ground lightning discharge. The conventional Lightning Protection System (LPS) consisting of strike receptor, lightning downconductor and low impedance ground termination system is well defined in standards such as NFPA 7801 and IEC 62305.

This paper sets out to explore a number of topical questions commonly posed regarding the scope of protection needed for different sites and locations. It seeks to provide background to each question, explaining the mechanism of the risk involved, and the method best suited to reduce this. It also covers aspects such as whether protection is required in geographic locations where isokeraunic levels are low, whether protection is needed when the site is surrounded by structures of equal or greater elevation, whether it is necessary to protect both the base station and the remote radio head, and how best to protect against the direct and indirect strike.

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