Locate Cell Towers: How to Find The Tower Nearest You

Spread the love

For anyone dealing with spotty cellular signal, it’s important to know how to locate cell towers. Not only that, but you need to know the obstacles (large buildings, hills, etc.) between the tower and your location. Making yourself aware of these things is important because this is the first step that will lead you to your solution.

Once you know where the closest cell tower is, you’ll likely know if your solution will require a cell phone signal booster for sure if there are other things you can try first. You’ll also know if a signal booster is even an option for you.

Important Info About Cell Towers And Their Locations

Here are some bits of info worth knowing about cell towers before we get into what you can do to find the one nearest you:

  • Not every cell site (tower) is required to register with the FCC. In fact, fewer than half of all cell towers in the U.S. are. A cell site is only required to do so if one of the following three things apply: (1) the antenna is 200+ ft tall, (2) it is within a designated flight path near an airport, (3) the site falls under a NEPA requirement. Small cell sites (the ones mounted to utility poles or to the sides of buildings) are not required to be registered.
  • Mobile networks are not bound by any legal requirement to disclose any cell tower location. The associated legality states that this is for “safety and security” reasons.
  • Cell towers are often not bound to one particular network. In some cases, up to 5 different carriers can provide service to their customers from the same tower.
  • Though it is often assumed that all cell towers disseminate signals in a 360-degree circle, some of them do not. There are no industry regulations that state they must.
  • If you look on the FCC’s website to locate cell towers, you’ll notice that the FCC does not state which cellular networks use a particular tower. They only show you the coordinates of the tower and who owns it.
  • Almost all cell towers (except 5G towers) are capable of providing 4G, 3G, and 2G service.

Websites That Help You Locate Cell Towers

There’s more than one way to go about locating your nearest cell tower. Cell tower data can be found using many different sources, and each is unique. Each one has pros and cons. Let’s go through them.

FCC.gov

This is a great place to find cell tower information if you’re an industry insider, work in or are otherwise familiar with the industry. Beginners should probably start their cell tower search elsewhere as the data here is very raw and often technical. It’ll take you some time to find the information you’re looking for if you aren’t already well-versed in the business of cell towers and mobile technology. But if you are, this will probably be the ideal place for you to start.

CellReception.com

Remember how we mentioned above that not every cell tower is registered with the FCC? Well, CellReception.com is very accurate at providing the locations of both registered and unregistered cell towers. It does this by pulling data from more places besides the FCC database. CellReception.com also pulls information from FCC radio broadcast licenses, public safety records, and various third-parties. This site will also give you an end-user sampling of reception and coverage.

AntennaSearch.com

AntennaSearch.com is a site that strives for the same results as CellReception.com and pulls data from the same sources. But many users say that AntennaSearch.com is not as complete and comprehensive as CellReception.com. From what we can tell, it appears that they don’t update their site as often as they should, and that some of their information is out of date.

RootMetrics.com

Even though RootMetrics.com does not provide cell tower location information, we’ve included it on our list of helpful resources because it’s still extremely useful. When it comes to unbiased scientific research on things like cell phone performance, coverage, and reception, this is the best site out there. This site will show you detailed information that rates each carrier based on things like network reliability, call connectivity, text connectivity, and upload/download speed.

Network Carrier Maps

Every major and minor carrier – from Verizon to Cricket and everything in between – will have a map on their website showing their coverage areas. These are called carrier maps. Though these maps usually don’t show precise tower locations, seeing where your carrier provides coverage is very helpful in knowing how to proceed with your signal problem. Here are links to the coverage maps of some major carriers to get you started:

Verizon
T-Mobile
AT&T

Apps That Help You Find The Nearest Cell Tower

Here are 4 mobile apps that not only help you find the cell tower nearest you but also let you test reception. There are lots of apps out there that say they do these things, but most of them are not being entirely truthful when making these claims. Here are a few of the ones we trust.

Open Signal

Open Signal identifies cell tower locations by pulling info from the FCC and crowdsourced data. The U.S. Federal Government originally had this app created as part of the Connect America Act. But since then, it has become a private enterprise and is beginning to change its focus. Though it still is a great resource for locating towers, it aims to become more of a carrier grading service in the future.

Ookla

Ookla doesn’t actually show you the location of cell towers, but it does perform a cell speed test for you. This is important enough to include on this list because it will come in extremely handy if you end up getting a cell phone signal booster. You’ll need to know precisely what the data speed is in all the locations of interest inside your home so you can know for sure if data speeds are improving. And this app will give you all of that info.

Network Signal Pro

If you’re in a situation that requires you to regularly check tower locations – perhaps for your job or some other circumstance – this is the app to get. The mapping data it provides is comprehensive and incorporates a lot more databases than just the FCC. For 5 bucks, it’s definitely worth it.

Note: we’re talking about the paid version of this app, not the free version. The free version doesn’t provide up-to-date information. The paid version costs $4.99.

Antenna Pointer

Antenna Pointer is a very helpful app that helps you perfectly aim your directional antenna (which is one of the components of a cell phone signal booster kit). If your situation requires you to purchase a signal booster, you’ll need to position the outdoor antenna just right, so it points directly at the nearest cell tower. This app will give you the precise degree setting.

One More Thing About These Mobile Apps

Because mobile apps collect much of their data while the app is in use, the information they give you usually isn’t 100% accurate. Essentially, when you open the app, it triangulates your position (and that of other nearby smart phones) with the tower it’s receiving its signal from. This is how it produces the data it shows you. This triangulation method, though effective, can be off – sometimes by as much as 90 degrees.

What If None Of These Things Work?

In rare circumstances, websites and apps won’t provide you with the cell tower information you need. If you find yourself in a situation like this, consider getting a signal meter from SureCall. This device is extremely accurate (guaranteed to be more accurate than any of the solutions discussed above). It will give you the most detailed information regarding the best tower for you to use. It takes into consideration what carrier you use and also assesses your signal environment.

If you’re not sure if you need to get a professional device like this to get the cell tower information you need, reach out to us and we’ll help you.

How To Find Out Your Cell Tower Direction Manually

  • Open field test mode on your phone. To do this on an iPhone, click here for instructions. For Android instructions, click here.
  • Go outside and stand right in front of any corner of the building or home, with your back to the structure.
  • Take readings by initiating a signal test on your phone. Make sure to stand there for at least 90 seconds regardless of how soon numbers pop up on your phone. Sometime they change depending on your carrier, antenna angle, and cell activity in the area. Once 90 seconds have passed, write down the lowest reading it gives you.
  • Once you’ve written that down, repeat this process at the other 3 corners AND all 4 midpoints of your house or building.
  • Now stand directly in the middle of your house or building (or as close to the midpoint as you can) and draw directional arrows through your two lowest readings
  • Draw a third arrow from the middle of the building, bisecting the first two arrows.
  • Standing on the side of the building having the two lowest readings, use the antenna pointer app to approximate the degree angle of the third arrow.

Here’s an example of what you’re final drawing could look like:

ubersignal.com

Locate Cell Towers: How to Find The Tower Nearest You – Conclusion

We gave you a lot of information here. If it was a bit confusing, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. A SureCall rep is waiting now to help with through this process and answer any related questions. And one last thing to remember: all the instructions and tips included in this article give you relevant data for one single carrier at a time. If you live in a household with different people who use different carriers, each person will need to locate cell towers themselves as it pertains to the carrier they use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.