Using Technology to Find Technology:
There are a large number of reasons to find your local cell tower locations. We’ll cover a variety of ways to easily decide which towers are yours and what direction area they cover. We see towers literally everywhere but which one is ours? That’s the question many folks answer each day. These methods will work with all carriers, folks on an MVNO (any brand that’s not Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint) we’ll need to find what companies towers they use.
The Primitive Way:
The way many people including me use to complete this task was simply driving around. As you get closer to a car your signal increases, bars generally go up etc. A better way to measure signal increase would be your the Db reading in your settings. If using bars simply drive till you slowly locate the tower, Db readings will get closer to zero the closer you are. If using the Db readings, once you’re between -50 and -75db the tower should be extremely close. You can most likely see it at that point, and will have an idea where it’s at. Plotting it out on a google map may be helpful once you return home.
The Modern Way:
When I search for towers this day in age I use a variety of applications, but you can generally get away with just one. Sometimes it helps to use multiple though which I prefer.
- Antennasearch.com is a great tool for finding towers that are close, anything with in about four miles will be plotted. This includes antennas that your local municipals may use for communications. It also holds information on new tower permits, locations, etc. I use this often unless I need more than a four mile range.
Google Earth Pro Cell Tower Locations:
- Google Earth can also be used to find towers extremely well, by downloading the cell tower overlay for cell tower locations. The best part is, Google Earth Pro is now free for everyone so you get more tools. This will plot a very large portion of towers into your Google Earth program. I really like this tool because of how versatile it can be. I use the measurement tool to find directions, degrees, elevation changes between you and the tower. This works extremely well for more important things such as cell phone booster installations. When we installed our Weboost Connect 4G it came with a Yagi style directional antenna. Aiming it in the wrong direction was a ticket to poor quality signal.
- Opensignal.com is another source to browse through. I have a love hate relationship with them, it’s all crowd sourced which is wonderful. However I notice the cell tower locations can be wrong from time to time. It works great for finding cell coverage in non rural places though. I would only use this in conjunction with the two maps above.
Opensignal also has an App for Android & Apple is a nice app overall for this. It can actually point you from anywhere to the direction your tower is in. Most of the time it’s pretty accurate, and quick! Another bonus about this is Opensignal as stated above crowd sources information. So the more people using the app, the more quality information they receive.
There is a single caveat I have had with the app. In the settings you can change how often to send data to them. I had it set to the maximum for a week and every few seconds my phone would stutter. I had no idea what was causing it, until I slowed down the app back to “normal”. So if you have an older phone, don’t touch that setting. I can’t blame the app on this, but I do feel I should let others know if they run into a similar issue.
This option is kind of an OpenSignal meets Google with great filtering combination. You can enter in your location and it will show all towers, and who they operate from. Where it really helps if the filtering it offers vs the other options. You can filter all towers out except the carrier you need. This works particularly well in extremely populated places like large cities. They also have some sub sections not pertaining to finding cell towers.
Other Options to Find Cell Tower Locations:
There is a vast array of other options in the app stores for both apple, and android. There is most likely alternatives to the websites listed above also. These have been very useful for me though, often times best when used with one another.
What’s the Quickest Way?
I find that finding your tower with antenna search, or cellreception is the absolute quickest way to find the tower. Once I have the tower located, I will use Google Earth to do all the major number crunching. Earth is not required for everyone but it can hold a lot of great information. This should put you well on your way to receiving better signal!