28. Apr 2021

SafeBase delivery to Norway’s first off-grid mobile site operating on 100% renewable energy

The protected area around the tourist attraction Trollstigen has finally received mobile coverage. Atop the mountain, Telia has done the impossible – built a base station powered by solar and wind energy, without backup diesel generators. Remote monitoring is crucial for smooth operations in such remote locations,. Our telecom-adapted SmartSite solution make sure remote monitoring is handled.

Trollstigen web

A recent traffic accident on the county road 63 right by Trollstigen made the area’s need for cellphone coverage a news item. However, the area’s complete lack of preexisting infrastructure had most operators convinced developing cellphone coverage in this area was an impossible task.

— The area around Trollstigen is protected, and there’s no fiber or electricity available. Never the less, the traffic accident provided that extra little bit of motivation to bring coverage to this secluded area. Alongside a few other contributors we made it happen, says technical manager in Telia’s development department, Martin Gyllenhammar.

Geographical challenges

The base station is located far away from the main road. Geographical challenges mean that the base station must be monitored remotely.

— Operating personnel need to know what the weather on the mountain is like before they travel. In addition, the landscape protection means that we need to apply for dispensation for each helicopter trip. Therefore, we minimize the number of maintenance trips – to two trips a year.

Photo credit: Telia

Tailor-made monitoring systems for the telecommunication sector

Because of SafeBase and Telia’s long running cooperation – continually modifying the SensorHub to accommodate the telecommunication sector’s specific needs – involving SafeBase in the Trollstigen-project was a natural choice for Gyllenhammar.

— SafeBase operates with a flexibility that makes them perfectly suited for projects like this, adapting their solutions to deliver exactly what we need. That makes SafeBase an appealing partner for projects like these. More often than not, as the customer, you have to settle for what a supplier makes or has previously made. SafeBase, on the other hand, collaborates with us and make exactly what we need. For our Trollstigen base station they delivered the top system SafeMon SensorHub, with electronics and modem, as well as surveillance cameras and the weather station, says Gyllenhammar.

He elaborates and explains that SafeBase’s technology means that the base station gets connectivity via the 4G network instead of a fixed transmission. The solution, which falls under the Smart Telecom-concept (SmartSite), provides Telia with remote access to the station. It also transmits anonymized and encrypted user data that provides valuable insight for operating- and maintenance personnel.

Predicts downtime  

A weather station that predicts power production, and relays the weather conditions to operating personnel, is all part of SafeBase’s delivery. The base station produces its own power from wind turbines and solar panels. To anticipate the lack of power production – and downtime on the coverage – weather conditions must be monitored.

—SafeBase’s management system interface also retrieves weather data from the weather site Yr, so that we can see what the weather will be like the next 24 hours. This insight allows us to plan and carry out physical maintenance at appropriate times, and to accurately monitor the power production.

Lack of sun and wind over longer periods of time leads to low power production. Gyllenhammar and the team have taken this into account:

— The SensorHub has a back-up of electrical power and cell signal coverage. Should the coverage at the Trollstigen site go bad, the SensorHub connects to a secondary base station down in Åndalsnes. This way we never lose contact with the base station.

Martin Gyllenhammar on site.

Weekly operating meetings

SafeBase and Telia conduct weekly meetings where the status of the entire infrastructure is reviewed.

— Our collaboration with SafeBase is one of the best we have. SafeBase is incredible, especially when it comes to listening to their customers and following up on their requests. In our weekly operations meeting, we review problems they have identified at our base station. The team is very solution oriented, and usually show up having already solved the problem, boasts Gyllenhammar.

He is also very pleased with the management system’s user interface, pointing out that many companies tend to make solutions that look more or less archaic.

— SafeBase’s solution has a very intuitive dashboard. It is important for us that the interface in which we work is user friendly; allowing us to quickly and easily find the information we are looking for – preferably without a master’s degree in their software, he laughs.

The way forward

The coverage was turned on last summer. We have spent the last year testing the solution and optimizing the values of, among other things, the wind turbine.

— Utilizing solar and wind power is still at an early stage in the telecom industry. The idea is to see whether or not this is something SafeBase can monitor for us in the future. The Trollstigen project will teach us a lot, providing valuable information on how to do similar projects in the future, Gyllenhammar concludes.

We are very proud to work with a future-oriented and bold telecommunications supplier like Telia, who dares to look for solutions to the most challenging problems. We are excited to look for solutions to difficult problems, and are looking forward to seeing how mobile-sites with renewable energy are built and operated in the future!