Lightning and surge protection for 5G telecom base station and cell sites

surge protective for communication cell sites

Lightning and surge protection for cell sites

Ensure network availability and reliable operation

Increasing demand for 5G technology means that we need higher transmission capacities and better network availability.
New cell site locations are constantly being developed for this purpose – the existing network infrastructure is being modified and expanded. There is no question about the fact that cell sites must be reliable. Nobody can or wants to risk their failure or restricted operation.

Why bother with lightning and surge protection?

The exposed location of mobile radio masts makes them vulnerable to direct lightning strikes which could paralyze the systems. Damage is often also caused by surges, e.g. in case of nearby lightning strikes.
Another important aspect is protecting the personnel working on the system during a thunderstorm.

Ensure the availability of your installations and systems – protect human lives

A comprehensive lightning and surge protection concept provides optimum protection and high system availability.

Information for mobile network operators

Lightning and surge protection for cell sites

My top priority – keeping mobile communication networks up and running. I know this is only possible if there is earthing and lightning and surge protection. My applications often require made-to-measure solutions and system tests. What are my options?
Here you will find system-specific protection concepts, optimised product solutions and information on engineering and testing services to reliably protect your systems.

Compact knowledge for mobile network operators

Non-stop network availability – Safety for your installations and systems

Digitalisation is in full swing: Technological developments are moving at breakneck speed and are changing the way we communicate, work, learn and live.

Highly available mobile networks for real-time services such as autonomous driving or smart manufacturing infrastructure (5G network slicing) require special protection for the mobile radio equipment. As an operator, you know that the failure of such networks, e.g. due to lightning strikes or surges, often has severe economic consequences.
The top priority is therefore to prevent outages and maintain reliable network availability.

Specific protection concepts mean higher system availability

Direct lightning strikes pose a particular threat to the radio masts of cell sites as these are usually installed in exposed locations.
A made-to-measure protection concept for your system allows you to meet your own protection goals, such as system availability and protecting your employees.

Only by combining components for earth-termination systems and external lightning protection systems with lightning current and surge arresters do you achieve the safety you need to

  • Effectively protect personnel
  • Ensure the safety and high availability of installations and systems
  • Comply with and meet the requirements of laws, regulations and standards.

Implement an effective protection concept including measures for the cell site, the radio base station and the remote radio head.


Avoid unnecessary risks and implement an effective protection concept including measures for the cell site, the radio base station and the remote radio head.

Cell site surge protection

LSP protects cell sites

Protect rooftop transmitters and telecommunication towers.
The infrastructure of existing buildings is often used when installing rooftop transmitters. If a lightning protection system is already installed, the cell site is integrated in it.
If a new lightning protection system is required, it is advisable to install an isolated lightning protection system. This ensures that the separation distance is maintained and prevents the sensitive mobile radio components from sustaining damage due to lightning currents.

Radio base station surge protection

LSP protects cell sites (AC)

Protection of the radio base station

As a rule, the radio base station is supplied via a separate power line – independent of the rest of the building. The supply line to the cell site downstream of the meter and in the AC sub-distribution board upstream of the radio base station should be protected by appropriate lightning current and surge arresters.

Prevent nuisance tripping of system fuses

The infrastructure in main and system power supplies is protected by tried and tested combined arresters (combined lightning current and surge arresters).

LSP surge protective devices have an extremely high follow current extinction and limitation. This avoids nuisance tripping of system fuses which would disconnect cell sites. For you, this means especially high system availability.

Space-saving thanks to compact design

Full performance over a width of only 4 standard modules! With its compact design, FLP12,5 series has a total current of 50 kA (10/350µs). With these performance parameters, it is currently the smallest combined arrester on the market.

This device meets the maximum requirements for the lightning current discharge capacity according to IEC EN 60364-5-53 and the IEC EN 62305 requirements concerning the class of LPS I/II.


Universally applicable – Independent of the feeder

FLP12,5 series is specially developed for requirements in the mobile radio sector. This arrester can be used universally regardless of the feeder. Its 3+1 circuit allows reliable protection of TN-S and TT systems.

Information for installers

Whether rooftop or mast-mounted cell sites – I am often forced to adapt to the structural conditions on site when installing lightning and surge protective devices. So, I need solutions that are quickly available and easy to install.

Here you will find product recommendations for protecting cell sites and radio relay systems as well as special information for lightning protection companies. You are short of time? With the help of LSP concept, you can have a comprehensive lightning and surge protection concept planned for you.

Remote radio head surge protection

Compact knowledge for installers

Fast mobile network – everywhere

Mobile radio networks are also affected by increasing digitalisation and demands for more, faster. Rapid network expansion constantly requires new radio masts and more rooftop cell sites.

Of course, the sooner new systems are up and running, the better. This requires careful planning and practical products for speedy implementation.

Practical solutions – Competent support


Planning often takes time and involves a lot of research. Simplify this phase by outsourcing the planning of lightning and surge protection. With LSP concept you receive the complete project plan including 3D drawings and documentation.


During implementation, you benefit immensely from well-conceived, tried and tested products. This ensures quick and easy installation.

the cables are pre-wired and the screws are secured in the lid so they can’t fall out. The box is also installer friendly thanks to a lid with fall prevention.

Information for equipment suppliers

Cell site surge protection device

The requirements for new cell site locations are constantly increasing. New systems, optimised in terms of energy and performance, require made-to-measure surge protection concepts. So, I need special solutions whose size, performance and cost are optimally tailored to my needs.

Here you will find information about design-in applications and individual PCB solutions.

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

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

Surge Protection Wireless Infrastructure

THREAT $26B in losses due to Power Surges

Today’s increased reliance on very sensitive electronics and processes make surge protection an important discussion topic in order to avoid catastrophic business losses. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety study found that $26 billion dollars was lost due to non-lightning power surges. In addition, there are about 25 million lightning strikes in the US each year that cause between $650M to $1B in losses.

$26B in losses due to Power Surges

SOLUTION Global Surge Mitigation Concept

Our philosophy is simple – determine your risk and evaluate every line (power or signal) for vulnerabilities. We call this the “box” concept. It works equally well for a single piece of equipment or an entire facility. Once you have determined your “boxes”, it is simple to develop a coordinated protection scheme to eliminate all threats from lightning and switching surges.

Global Surge Mitigation Concept


The electronic equipment deployed to build out wireless networks is extremely susceptible to the destruction caused by lightning strikes and other sources of electrical surges. It is important to properly protect this sensitive electronic equipment with surge protection.



Surge protection location example

Lightning Protection for New-generational Small Cell Infrastructure

Paying attention to the specific measures required to protect equipment mounted on and contained within light poles used as small cell supports and enclosures saves airtime lost to outages and repair costs.

The next generation of millimeter-wave (mmW) 5G wireless communications technology deployment, will spur the use of short-range, small cell structures, mostly in the form of integrated street poles, in urban areas and cities.

These structures, often referred to as “smart” or “small cell” poles, usually comprise pole assemblies densely populated with electronic systems. The small cell sites can be built on existing or new metallic street lighting poles, either partially concealed or fully concealed, and on existing wooden utility poles. These electronic systems typically include:

  • AC-powered mmW 5G radios and their associated multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) beamforming antenna systems
  • AC- or DC-powered 4G radios
  • AC/DC rectifiers or remote powering units
  • Alarm systems and intrusion sensors
  • Forced-cooled ventilation systems

AC and DC power distribution panels with utility smart energy metering

Typical AC power and equipment compartments in an integrated 5G small cell pole, surge protection pic2

In more sophisticated instances, these smart poles will also integrate smart city hubs containing sensors, such as high-resolution concealed cameras, gunshot detection microphones and atmospheric sensors for calculating the ultraviolet (UV) index and measuring solar brightness and solar radiation. In addition, the poles may accommodate additional structural subassemblies, such as support arms for LED street lighting, conventional sidewalk luminaries and receptacles for electric vehicle charging.

A centralized equipotential bonding system is usually provided within the pole via strategically positioned grounding bars, to which the different radio systems are connected. Typically, the neutral conductor of the incoming utility power supply also is bonded to ground at the energy meter’s socket, which in turn is bonded back to the main grounding bar. The pole’s external system ground is then bonded to this main grounding bar.

The simple light pole seen along sidewalks and city pavements is changing and will soon become a pivotal component of the new 5G wireless infrastructure. These systems will have paramount importance because they support the new technological layer of cellular networks for high-speed services. No longer will such pole structures simply accommodate incandescent light fixtures. Instead, they will become the core of a highly sophisticated technology. With this advance in integration, capability and reliance comes inevitable risk. Even with their relatively low heights compared to macro cell sites, such sophisticated electronic subsystems are set to become exponentially more susceptible to damage from overvoltage surges and transients.

Overvoltage Damage

The importance of these small cells in the 5G infrastructure cannot be underestimated. Far from just being used to fill gaps in radio coverage and increase capacity, in 5G networks small cells will become the radio access network’s primary nodes, providing high-speed services in real time. These technologically advanced systems may well provide critical gigabit service links to customers where outages cannot be tolerated. This necessitates the use of highly reliable surge protection devices (SPDs) to maintain the availability of these sites.

The source of such overvoltage risks can broadly be categorized into two forms: those caused by radiated atmospheric disturbances and those caused by conducted electrical disturbances.

Example of an AC power distribution enclosure with integrated overvoltage protection pic2

Let us consider each in turn:

Radiated disturbances are largely created by airborne events, such as nearby lightning discharges that create rapid changes in both electromagnetic and electrostatic fields around the structure. These rapidly varying electric and magnetic fields can couple with the electrical and electronic systems within the pole to produce damaging current and voltage surges. Indeed, the Faraday shielding created by the contiguous metallic structure of the pole will help reduce such effects; however, it cannot fully mitigate the problem. The sensitive antenna systems of these small cells are largely tuned to the frequencies at which much of the energy in the lightning discharge is centralized (5G will operate in frequency bands up to 39 GHz). Thus, they can act as conduits to allow this energy to enter the structure, causing possible damage to not only the radio front-ends, but also to other interconnected electronic systems within the pole.

Conducted disturbances are largely those that find their way into the pole via conductive cables. These include utility power conductors and signal lines, which can couple the internal electronic systems contained within the pole to the external environment. Because it is envisaged that the deployment of small cells will largely use the existing infrastructure of municipal street lightning or replace it with customized smart poles, small cells will rely on existing distribution wiring. Often, in the United States, such utility wiring is aerial and not buried. It is particularly susceptible to overvoltages, and a primary conduit for surge energy to enter the pole and damage the internal electronics.

Overvoltage protection (OVP)

Standards such as IEC 61643-11:2011 describe the use of surge protective devices to mitigate the effects of such overvoltages. SPDs are classified by test class for the electrical environment within which they are intended to operate. For example, a Class I SPD is one that has been tested to withstand – using IEC terminology – “a direct or partial direct lightning discharge.” This means that the SPD has been tested to withstand the energy and waveform associated with the discharge most likely to enter a structure in an exposed location.

As we consider the deployment of small cell infrastructure, it is clear that the structures will be exposed. Many such poles are expected to appear along residential curbsides and pavements of metropolitan cities. It is also expected that such poles will proliferate in communal gathering places, such as indoor and outdoor sports stadiums, shopping centers and concert venues. Thus, it is important that the SPDs selected to protect the primary service entrance utility feed are suitably rated for this electrical environment and meet Class I testing, i.e., that they can withstand the energy associated with direct, or partially direct, lightning discharges. It is also recommended that the SPD selected have an impulse withstand level (Iimp) of 12.5 kA in order to safely withstand the threat level of such locations.

Selection of an SPD capable of withstanding the associated threat level is not in itself enough to ensure the equipment is afforded adequate protection. The SPD must also limit the incident conducted surge to a voltage protection level (Up) lower than the withstand level (Uw) of the electronic equipment within the pole. IEC recommends that Up< 0.8 Uw.

LSP’s SPD technology is purposefully designed to provide the required Iimp and Up ratings to protect sensitive mission critical electronic equipment found in small cell infrastructures. LSP’s technology is considered to be maintenance-free and can withstand thousands of repetitive surge events without failure or degradation. It provides a highly safe and reliable solution that eliminates the use of materials that could burn, smoke or explode. Based on years of field performance, LSP’s expected lifetime is more than 20 years, and all modules are supplied with a 10-year limited lifetime warranty.

The products are tested according to international safety standards (EN and IEC) and offer unparalleled performance against lightning and power surges. Furthermore, LSP protection is integrated into a compact AC distribution enclosure suitable to being installed within the small cell poles. This provides overcurrent protection to the incoming AC service and outgoing distribution circuits, thereby providing a convenient point at which the utility service from the electric meter can enter and distribute within the pole.

Lightning and surge protection for 5G telecom base station and cell sites

As for the quality advantage in surge protection field, LSP is considered to be the choice to provide surge protective device (SPD) for the 5G telecom base station project in Korea. The SPDs will be provided as part of the end products. During the meeting, LSP and the Korean customers discussed for the whole surge protection solution in 5G telecom base station.

Short for fifth generation, 5G is an ultrafast wireless network system offering around 20 times faster transmission speeds than the existing fourth-generation or Long Term Evolution networks. Global leaders in telecommunication are accelarating pace on 5G. For example, Ericsson has announced raising almost $400 million for 5G research this year. As its CTO says, “As part of our focused strategy, we are increasing our investments to secure technology leadership in 5G, IoT, and digital services. In the coming years, we will see 5G networks going live around the world, with major deployments from 2020, and we believe that there will be 1 billion 5G subscriptions by the end of 2023.”

LSP provides a wide range of surge protectors adapted to every network: AC power, DC power, Telecom, Data and Coaxial.