Helios Towers

The Helios Towers Group was formed in December 2009, with the vision of becoming a major infrastructure player in the burgeoning mobile markets of Africa. With limited or no access to fixed line solutions in the majority of emerging markets, mobile broadband is pivotal in enabling the developing world to reach its potential. Over seven years Helios Towers have made seven acquisitions totalling more than 5,000 towers and have constructed a further 1,600+. Together they accommodate the requirements of more than 12,000 tenancies.

Helios Towers work with Africa’s biggest investors in the digital telecoms space and speed of service is critical to their performance. These customers either lease space on the existing Towers or request new towers to be built. These include companies like Tigo, Airtel, Vodacom, Orange and Viettel.

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Application and Infrastructure Monitoring /




Helios Towers

The Problems they were trying to solve

Prior to engaging IBM/Orb Data Helios Towers had used developers to create the connectivity required to access their OSS. To connect to a new device, they needed a developer for at least 3 weeks whereas IBM had a relationship with the manufacturers that Helios Towers needed. The whole process of connecting a new customer was slower that they wanted.

In addition, due to their rapid growth Helios Towers had concerns that performance may become an issue. For example, they were receiving 35-40 million events per month from Tanzania alone.
Lastly, they wanted a company and set of products that could expand with them and not rip
and replace everything they had already.

The Solution

In 2016 IBM introduced Orb Data as a trusted partner and in October 2016 Helios Towers bought a Netcool solution to support mobile phone infrastructure spread across 4 country locations:

  • DRC
  • Congo (Brazzaville)
  • Ghana
  • Tanzania

The solution entailed multiple Netcool connections and data sources and specific requirement for Netcool Probes for OSS such as:

  • Generic 3GPP
  • Huawei U2000 3GPP (CORBA)
  • Nokia-Siemens NetAct 3GPP V6
  • ZTE NetNumen M31 WCDMA and U31
  • Wireless

In the solution the Netcool Probes (CORBA, SNMP, Socket) receive structured alarms (OSS) and metric data (RMS) and process them using Orb Data written bespoke rules. There was also event and metric data feeds from the ObjectServer to Apache ActiveMQ and MS SQL.

Events and Netcool infrastructure health visualised in WebGUI.

The Results

Through the implementation of Netcool Helios Towers have seen immediate gains. The increase in performance has meant that Helios Towers are able to meet critical SLA’s in a timely fashion across a challenging environment. This places Helios Towers as market leaders in their field and meeting SLAs in challenging circumstances in turn saves them hundreds of thousands of dollars a month ($3000 per 90 minutes for one customer).

More specifically Netcool’s historic event archiving capabilities allowed them to identify patterns of alerts that were previously not being acted upon due to underlying misconfiguration in source OSS systems and because of IBM’s broad OSS coverage they can now integrate with new customer’s in 3 days instead of 3 weeks.

This has led to a 50% increase in new client requests and plans to