The Indispensable Guide to Finding Your Closest Cell Tower Locations

Cell Tower Locations

The internet and mobile phones have made the world smaller. Most people throughout the world are now connected by cellular technology. This connection, however, is only possible if there are cell towers locations to support cellular communication.

Living in a location with good cellular coverage is one of the keys to a convenient life in the twenty-first century, and that usually means a place that has enough cell towers to provide quality cell signal.

Read on to learn about how cell towers work, how to locate them, and how a signal booster can be the missing link between a cell tower signal and your mobile device.

Chapter 1: How Do Cell Phone Towers Work?

Before we learn how to find the nearest cell tower locations, it’s important to first understand how cell phone towers work. Cell phone towers are elevated, high powered antennas that transmit radio frequency (RF) signals to mobile devices in the surrounding area. They enable phone communications across large areas.

Your phone transmits RF signals, which carry digital data, voice data, and text messages, to your mobile provider’s cell phone tower. The tower receives these transmissions and then passes them over their network to the correct destination. The closest cell tower also transmits voice and data back to the mobile devices in the nearby area.

Cell towers locations are owned and operated by different phone carriers, so even if you see a cell tower, it may be owned and operated by a different carrier than yours, and would thus not provide you with any benefit. In the United States, cell towers are registered with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Chapter 2: What Factors Impact Cell Tower Transmission Range?

Cell towers are built to cover large areas with cellular signal. The distance that you can be from a tower depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The cell tower transmitter’s rated power
  • The frequency of its signal
  • The height of its antenna above surrounding obstacles
  • The uplink/downlink rate of a consumer’s device
  • The dampening or reflection of radio waves by adjacent structures and/or flora
  • Weather, geographical, and other environmental factors

Chapter 3: Why Should We Know Where Cell Towers Are Located?

There are several reasons you may want to know about where the closest cell tower locations are in your area, including these:

  • To determine why calls aren’t going through, or you’re receiving interferenceWhen someone is in a place with bad reception, their phone calls may not go through, may get dropped, or may become choppy and unintelligible. Knowing that a cell tower from your carrier is in the area will help diagnose if the call problem is with the carrier’s network or if there is an issue with your phone or mobile device.
  • To find an ideal office or home location with good cell coveragePeople who require cell phone connectivity for work or other important activities should consider the availability of cell towers in their area when looking for a new office or home, to ensure quality cell tower signal at all times.
  • To choose the right phone provider specific to their areaPhone carriers and their cell towers accept and transmit calls only from devices registered on their network. For example, a subscriber of AT&T can’t use the service of a Verizon tower, unless they’re roaming. Likewise, a Verizon user can’t get any signal from an AT&T tower for free. Therefore, people may want to know which provider has the best cell tower saturation in their area if they’re planning to buy a new phone.

Chapter 4: What about Emergency Calls?

Every phone provider is mandated by law to accept emergency calls, regardless of the caller’s mobile network operator.

Normally, phones will only show the signal strength of their network; they will not show any signal bars of another provider’s cell tower. Emergency calls on the other hand can use any cell tower, so people in an emergency can still attempt to call 911. So even if the phone shows no service, it’s possible that if you try to make an emergency call, it will go through because it’s using a different cellular carrier’s network.

However, if there are no cell tower locations nearby from any carrier, no calls, whether emergency or not, will be able to be made. Thus, it may be important to determine if there are cell towers in the area in case of emergency situations.

Dropped Calls and Poor Cell Service

Chapter 5: Okay, How Do You Find a Cell Tower Location?

There are many methods in finding where the cell towers are in an area. Out of all of them, here are the six best and most efficient ways.

1. Use Your Phone

One effective way is by using your phone. Most phones are able to display the signal strength they’re receiving, so you can use that to determine the direction that your nearest cell tower is located.

Cellular signal is measured in decibels (dB). All phones operate within the −50 dB to −120 dB range, with the strongest signal at −50 dB and the weakest at −120 dB.

By default, phones track cell signals only from their carrier network and translate the signal strength as bars., so this method will only allow you to determine the nearest cell tower from your carrier..

To show a phone’s dB display, Android and some iPhone users can do these:

iPhone*

  1. Go to the phone app like you were going to make a call.
  2. Dial *3001#12345#* and then press the green "send" button as if you were making a call.
  3. This will place you into "Field Test Mode".
  4. Check the notifications bar to see the dB reading.

*Note: This method won’t work on an iOS 11 phone and on models that use Intel modems.

Android

  1. Access Settings.
  2. Go to General.
  3. Select About Phone.
  4. Then click Network or Status to show the dB value.

Once the dB meter is visible, walking around the area will allow you to find the spot with the greatest cell-signal strength. Some phone models, especially older ones, may lag when refreshing the dB value, so it’s advisable to walk slowly or pause in spots to get a reading. When a strong signal is found, it typically indicates that the nearest cell tower is in your general direction.

2. Consult Your Carrier's Cell Tower Map

Most phone companies have a cell tower map on their website showing the coverage that they provide, though it may be tricky to find it sometimes.

For the big four telecom providers in the US, here are their coverage maps. Bear in mind that magnification values equal the number of scrolls to reach the maximum zoom.

Verizon Coverage Map

  • Scroll down to see the interactive map.
  • Zoom is up to six times magnification.
  • Locations are searchable by address, city, or postal code.

AT&T Coverage Map

  • Can search for domestic or international coverage.
  • Map data can be filtered by voice, data, or prepaid coverage.
  • Zoom is up to sixteen times magnification.
  • Locations are searchable by address, postal code, country, or landmark.

Sprint Coverage Map

  • Map data can be filtered by voice or data coverage.
  • Zoom is up to twelve times magnification.
  • Locations are searchable by address.

T-Mobile Coverage Map

  • Can show region and route data for up to five addresses.
  • Zoom is up to eleven times magnification.
  • Locations are searchable by address.

For consumers in Canada, here are the maps for their three major phone service providers:

Bell Coverage Map

  • Map data can be filtered by LTE or 4G HSPA+ networks.
  • Map includes future/planned coverage expansions.
  • Zoom is up to twenty times magnification.
  • Locations are searchable by address, city, or postal code.

Rogers Coverage Map

  • Map data can be filtered by LTE, 2G, or HSPA+ networks.
  • Zoom is up to fifteen times magnification.
  • Locations are searchable by address.

Telus Coverage Map

  • Map data can be filtered by 4G LTE or 4G HSPA+ networks.
  • Map data can be shown by region.
  • Zoom is up to thirteen times magnification.
  • Locations are searchable by address, city, or postal code.

3. 3rd Party Websites

There are sites that have cell phone tower maps of North America and as well as towers around the world, which can be helpful in determining the towers in your area. This is mostly user generated content though, so they may not be the most accurate, depending on your location.

Some of these tools include the following:

CellMapper.net

CellMapper has a map of almost every cell tower location and coverage across the globe. It can filter map data by provider, network, band, frequency, and region.

There are also options to show the signal trails and the tower “heatmap” (signal strength radius) and to display towers in groups or one by one.

Furthermore, the map can search by location, by tower ID, or by PCI/PSC values.

OpenSignal

A go-to tool for most people looking for cell towers, OpenSignal can search for towers by city and by provider.

The map data can also toggle between showing two network types: 2G/3G and 4G. By default, OpenSignal’s map will show where the signal is strong and where it is weak.

OpenSignal also has an app version for Android and iPhone users. More on that later.

MapMuse.com

MapMuse is a straightforward cell tower map. It has a list of every FCC-registered cell tower. While it doesn’t have the filters of CellMapper, MapMuse does have a category for each US state.

CellReception.com

Like MapMuse, CellReception only lists towers that are registered with the FCC. But while MapMuse filters towers by state, CellReception zooms in further and provides cell tower locations by city.

Canadian Cellular Towers Map

Steven Nikkel made this map for people north of the border.

His cell tower map covers every tower owned by the three major Canadian phone companies (Bell, Rogers, and Telus), as well as eleven other minor providers.

4. 3rd Party Apps

People with smartphones can download and use apps for finding cell tower locations. Some of the websites listed above have associated apps that you can use on the go.

OpenSignal

Available to iPhone and Android users, the OpenSignal app is fundamentally similar to its web version in terms of features.

It auto detects the phone’s carrier and current network (3G or 4G), and it can show a graphical representation of both cell and Wi-Fi signal strengths.

The app can display nearby cell tower locations with their address and GPS coordinates. For people who want to go to the tower from which their phone is receives a signal, the app can trace a red line on its map, connecting the phone owner’s location with that of the tower’s.

Plus, it’s a free app, and it has a smoother design compared to that of the web version.

CellMapper

Yet another app of a previously mentioned tool, CellMapper has all the functions of its web counterpart and more. However, CellMapper is only available to Android users.

For compatibility, CellMapper can read cellular frequencies on Android, Qualcomm, Sony, and Samsung devices, and it will also work on phones with dual SIM cards.

Its supported networks currently include the following:

  • GSM
  • UMTS
  • CDMA
  • LTE
  • LTE-A

Tech-savvy people and telecom professionals can benefit from the detailed data that CellMapper displays, as shown in this screenshot:

Coverage?

The iPhone answer to CellMapper, Coverage? lets users locate and compare carrier coverage and cell phone tower maps as the users travel across the USA.

It costs $2.99 per year, but it can be used offline.

Users can find cell towers without connecting to the net, as all data is stored locally within the app on the device, although updates will be held off until internet connection is available again.

Coverage?’s map displays regional data based on each carrier’s records. Maps that show different carrier coverage data can be overlaid to suit the user’s needs and preferences. Overlays can also show the network types (LTE, 4G HSPA+, 3G, 2G) and roaming areas.

Available map data comes from the four major phone providers: AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile.

Note that Coverage?’s annual subscription is, by default, autorenewable. However, users can turn that off anytime after purchasing the app.

The developers also have a “lite” version for older, slower devices.

5. The Professional Option

The final option for determining a cell tower location is to use a cellular signal meter attached to a directional antenna. This setup is used mainly by telecom professionals and contractors who are doing site surveys before installing a large scale cell phone signal booster solution.

A signal meter is a device that can measure the decibel strength of all of the frequency bands used by the major cell carriers in the United States and Canada. By hooking up a directional antenna to the signal meter, a professional is able to take signal readings in different directions, and thus determine the direction of the closest cell tower.

Cell Phone Signal Boosters

Chapter 6: How a Signal Booster Can Help Solve Your Cell Phone Issues

Even if you live or work in on a place with very few cell towers, and thus have poor cell signal,, there is still a way to improve your reception and data speeds. A cell phone signal booster is a solution that takes a weak existing outside signal, amplifies it, and then distributes that strong signal to an area inside of a home, business or vehicle that needs better signal.

Signal boosters work in the following way:

  1. An external antenna receives cell signal from a nearby tower.
  2. The signal is passed over a low loss cable to a signal amplifier
  3. The signal amplifier boosts the signal.
  4. The boosted signal is passed to one or many inside antennas
  5. Each inside antenna broadcasts the boosted signal to the area that it’s located in.
  6. The booster works in the opposite direction as well, boosting cell signal from a phone and broadcasting it back to the tower.

Signal boosters are not limited to home or business use only. There are boosters that can be used in cars, RVs, and even boats.

Ready to Start Searching?

Sooner or later, you’re going to run into a situation where you don’t have good cell signal. Knowing how to locate nearby cell towers can go a long ways to diagnosing what the problem is and figuring out a solution for the dropped calls, slow data or dead zones in your home, business or vehicle.

If you have any questions about finding your nearest cell tower or improving your signal with a cell phone signal booster, please do not hesitate to contact us, and a signal expert can walk you through your options.