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Figuring out who's on a tower by dB

Discussion in 'Cell Tower Hunting Club' started by cellular_freak, May 3, 2008.

  1. cellular_freak

    cellular_freak Senior Member
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    I seem to remember seeing a site that told you the dB in the area for each carrier so you could figure out who was possibly transmitting from a nearby tower. The problem is, I can't remember the site. Does anybody know of a site like this?
     
  2. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    I dont remember the site but as an avid tower searcher. I have found when you do this enough you can look at the panels and tell who it is. But if you are not sure most of the time there will be lableing around the site that says who it is. If not look for signs with 800 numbers and call them and see what carrier picks up.
     
  3. TelcomJunkie

    TelcomJunkie Bad Handoff Investigator
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    To find out by dBm, you'd have to know what channel each carrier is on and have a different phone for the different technologies, both CDMA and GSM. When next to the tower you should receive a downlink signal in the -40's depending on the actual output power of the carrier. If you're down in the -80's then that carrier is not on that tower.
     
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  4. cellular_freak

    cellular_freak Senior Member
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    Well, actually going around with different companies phones is kind of not feasible for me. LOL. I only have a Verizon phone, so I can only figure out where a Verizon tower is or panel. And I can normally tell what a Verizon panel looks like. However, since I'm not familiar with other carriers, I normally take pics and post them in the Picture Gallery. I was kinda hoping that people would go in there and help me figure out who was on each tower by the panels, but nobody has done so yet. My pics are in the Michigan section by the way.
     
  5. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    That is almost impossible for us here to tell you who is who. Unless we are from there, I go to many places and still am shocked when I see how many differents panel styles carriers use.
     
  6. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    Ok after looking at your pictures it looks like you have most labeled what ones do you need help with?
     
  7. cellular_freak

    cellular_freak Senior Member
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    Well I have most of them labeled because it's my best guess based on coverage maps and such. But, I figured, if people could give me their guess, and I already had it narrowed down to just a couple carriers, that would help me out a lot. It just stinks because I can't use the coverage locator on Sprint's site for Sprint towers around here because it's iPCS, Alltel doesn't even have one, and Verizon's is a poor excuse for a coverage viewer (Therefore, I use my phone as a guide).
     
  8. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    Yeah verizon wont tell you much on the coverage maps lol. Is there any towers we can help you with though.
     
  9. RadioFoneGuy

    RadioFoneGuy Powered by HTC FUZE
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    Carriers tend to use different antennas in different markets. It all depends in the carriers corporate engineering department allow the local engineering team to make the call.

    Alltel in Michigan for example uses 2 main types of Panels which are the ones the Centurytel used before they were bought out. If you go into Western Wireless territory is more that likely different.

    At&t has a authorized antenna selections company wide, so now there will be more commonality thru out of its markets, but it would take years to change out the thousands of AT&T, Cingular, Dobson, Edge, McCaw, American Cellular, Ameritech Mobile, SBC mobility, Bell South Mobility, NPI Wireless, RFB, Alpine PCS and the many I probably missed.
     
  10. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    Yeah here for example midwest wireless was in alot of Utah and there are many omni's so it is hard to know it is them when around a tower lol. For those who dont know that is Alltel now lol.
     
  11. cellular_freak

    cellular_freak Senior Member
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    Mainly the ones on the first page of the Michigan section. (Because they're all mine, lol). If there's any that I don't have a list for, that would be REALLY helpful to give a helping hint, and even if I have a carrier listed, I still wonder if it could be another (Such as iPCS or Alltel).
     
  12. RJB

    RJB Gold Senior Member
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    I just went through and tried my luck sometimes by pictures it is hard to guess.
     
  13. cellular_freak

    cellular_freak Senior Member
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    Thanks very much for your help! I went through and look at what you had to say and I also commented back on some of them to maybe further help you out if you wanna look back. Also, there are a couple more of mine on the first page that I'm still wondering about, if you could help me out with those as well. Any help is great! I know it's hard if you don't live in the area to know what certain carrier's panels look like, but still, anything is better than nothing. I'm a newbie at this sort of thing. I just like that Verizon's panels all seem to look the same. At least around here.
     
  14. spleck

    spleck Tool
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    Is there any way we can standardize on whether the listed carrier is a guess versus confirmed? Maybe all guesses with a "?", or leave them blank and put the suggestions in the comments?

    If anyone is looking at the pics and sees an incorrect guess, they may assume that that area uses a certain type of antenna and label all of them in that area the same.

    Just an idea...
     
  15. spleck

    spleck Tool
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    If you have a CDMA phone, you can use the information from wireless.fcc.gov to determine which CDMA carrier you're looking at (do a geosearch for Cellular/PCS licenses in your area). If you have a tower with one CDMA carrier, you can force the phone onto different bands momentarily and watch the dBm level. If VZW is the cellular A-block carrier, you can "call" *22800 to force the phone on to the A-block. If you get a good signal on that block, -50dBM if you're at the site, then its a VZW site. If you're still in the -80, -90 range, then keep going. *22801 is the B-block, then *22802, *22803, etc are the PCS blocks. So if Sprint is the B-block carrier on PCS, you should see good signal at *22803.

    I think Eric47 or KyleAndMelissa22 had commented on this before and probably explained it better than I can.
     

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