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Installer Insights 04: Best Websites to Find Your Cell Tower

Installer Insights 04: Best Websites to Find Your Cell Tower



Installer Insights is provided by industry experts and professionals of residential and commercial cellular DAS and WiFi installation and integrations. This week features the returning Justin Klohn.

Hello again, and welcome to another edition of Installer Insights, our bi-weekly article series on topics we installers are commonly asked about. This week, I’m going to show you the best websites to find your nearest cell tower, and explain what the information to pay the most attention to.

A Little About Cell Towers

Knowing where the nearest cell tower is to the location you want to boost is extremely valuable information for an installer. This is pretty self-explanatory - when setting up a directional outdoor antenna, it helps to know what direction to point it in. What you might not know is that not all cell towers are created equal.

There are four main variables we installers concern ourselves with when looking at cell towers besides simple location: what carriers are present on the tower, what direction the signal is emanating toward, how powerful the signal is that’s being created, and how tall the tower is.

The Websites

CellMapper.net

  • Pros:
      • Makes it easy to filter by carrier, band, and network
      • Full suite of data including direction, triangulation, and power.
  • Cons:
    • Not very user-friendly
    • Might not be totally up-to-date
    • Does not show tower height

Definitely my preferred site for locating cell towers, CellMapper.net has nearly all the information required by any installer worth their salt. It is regularly updated by both carriers and hobbyists, and its multiple filters allow for precise triangulation of outgoing cell signal.

This is the best website to use, as it provides nearly all the key information I look for - the one exception being tower height.

Pro Tip: Type ‘310’ in the search bar to quickly find AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint on the list of carriers, and ‘311’ for Verizon.

AntennaSearch.com

  • Pros:
      • Best resource for tower height
      • Lets you know who owns what tower
  • Cons:
    • Very technical
    • Takes a long time to generate tower map
    • Does not show signal power generation or direction
    • Not updated frequently

A very technical site, AntennaSearch.com is mostly useful for finding out tower height. I only use this if the readings I pick up when adjusting the outdoor antenna are a little off and I might need to aim the antenna higher or lower along a Z axis.

Unfortunately, this site does not provide any of the information I like to have easily. In addition, it can take a few minutes to generate its report. Finally, it shows ALL towers - there’s no way to differentiate between carriers, or signal generation.

Additional Tips:

  • Download the Network Cell Info Lite App (for Android) to see what tower you’re currently pulling signal from. This only work on Android - iPhone currently has no good option for this. You can then find the tower by matching the PCI number off the app to the PCI number on the website.
  • If you can, avoid towers near major roads, highways, or intersections. These tend to have extremely high traffic at peak hours, and can cause connection issues even with boosted signal.

And that’s it! Hopefully this gives you all the information you need to find your cell tower on your own. Thanks for reading.

Justin Klohn
28th Nov 2018

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