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Ok, so make me clear on this....

Discussion in 'Cell Tower Hunting Club' started by Rollindown95, Jul 5, 2006.

  1. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    Hey, i just registered tonight...and im full of questions, mostly b/c i have been frequenting these two sites and they are www.cellreception.com and www.antennasearch.com.

    locating towers is interesting to me but i have many questions.

    Like for one, some of the towers when u click on them, it tells the owner and all and it may be something like "spectrasite communications" or one said "shaner propane"...so, do these towers operate the same as a cingular tower? will someone on the highway near a tower not owned by a cellular company still be able to bounce a signal off a separately owned tower? why does cingular or any other company claim to have so many towers if they can use other company towers? are broadcasting towers and cellualr towers the same, can anyone clear me up, this is killin me....:confused: :confused:
     
  2. COtech

    COtech Bronze Senior Member
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    Towers are the support structures for antennas. The antennas are up in the air, and have a longer line of sight than the handset pressed against your head. (Exception is standard broadcast AM radio, 540-1700 KHz. The tower ITSELF is the antenna.)

    Spectrasite, Crown Castle and others are tower "landlords". The wireless companies mostly sold off their towers, and leased use on them instead. That leaves capital free to invest in more radios and antennas, in more places. Once that's done, we'll call it a "cell site".

    Shaner Propane's tower might be available for rent. Very likely it's dispatch radio, two-way, in one of three bands (30-50, 150-170, and 450-470 MHz) (FCC listings). Depending on the list you've examined, it may be listed because it's tall enough that pilots need to know of, and avoid it. It may be painted in aviation red and white, and lighted at night, if tall enough (FAA listings).

    It's possible for two-way, broadcasting (FM and TV), and wireless companies to share a tower. The owner has the responsibility of being sure the tower's ratings in load carrying (antennas and coax weight) and wind load (measured in surface area for antennas and everything else) is not exceeded. Expect hurricanes near the coast, build stronger or smaller! Reliable electricity and landlines are very welcome.

    Getting the idea?

    COtech
     
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  3. Andy

    Andy Diamond Senior Member
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    In some areas cell companies do own their own cell towers, but in other areas, especially in more rural areas such as interstate corridors they will rent/lease space from companies such as American Towers, Spectrasite and others. If a carrier like Cingular pays those tower companies they can put their equipment on the tower and broadcast from it. In a lot of areas companies own towers themselves.
    Carriers don't claim having the most cell towers owned, they claim having the most cellsites, which basically means they braodcast from more cell towers/buildings than other carriers.
    I hope this helps, but I'm probably not the best to explain this. Someone like Cotech or hillbilly will probably join in and be able to help you better.
    Andy

    EDIT. I guess it already happened. ;)
     
  4. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    Can i just list the millions of questions i have and u all can just be patient with me...LOL.....?? First off, what if any sites will show me the different kinds of towers and explain the differences of each, like the really tall and sophisticated ones, and the ones hanging off buildings and poles? what sites on the web can teach me what you all know? When i drive past a tower, i wanna see it for more than just that, i wanna know the company it is and why its a tall one or short one etc... lots of things..

    heres a few questions:

    -can verizon and nextel and other companies etc...doesnt really matter which ones, can they get service or signal(whats the difference??) from a designated"cingualr tower?"

    - is there any way of finding out the tower i get my service from,? is it one more than another?

    -when the singal and bars on a phone are low or almost non existent, does that mean there are no towers around, or just no towers for ur service company(like cingular) around?

    -I know there can be several carriess on one pole, but can a company have three levels of receivers on the pole and it all be the same company, instead of the different carriers on the same pole???

    so many questions, so little answers???:loony: :loony:
     
  5. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    This means that there aren't any Cingular towers/setups nearby since the next tower is a greater distance away (a few miles versus a few hundred feet/yards - this occurs in rural areas where you have less obstruction caused by more open space between the tower and your phone). Cell phones are always in contact with several towers at any given time but will normally prefer the one with the strongest incoming signal and the phone queries the local towers on a regular basis (don't know at which interval, probably every few seconds) to see if there is a stronger signal from a tower other than the one the phone is currently connected to.

    Your phone will also "see" other towers used by other GSM providers (i.e. T-Mobile) in your area but the SIM card will prevent your phone from registering with such towers since the other carriers' MNC (Network Code) is listed as a prohibited network on the SIM card's MNC list. This counts for areas/markets only where Cingular and T-Mobile don't have a local roaming/network/tower sharing agreement. The same goes for any market where Cingular or T-Mobile don't depend on another provider for tower access.
     
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  6. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    why do companies put towers on roof tops, is it a cheapness thing? is it because the area is not zoned for a monster tower?

    and the opposite question id ask is, why are some towers so super high and seem to have so many parts to them?:loony: :confused:
     
  7. Rollindown95

    Rollindown95 Junior Member
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    so is it possible to have full bars on ur phone but have no towers of that carrier in the area? (i.e.-having a cingular phone with full bars on the screen but yet not having cingular towers within miles?) can my phone pull service off other towers, or poles, and yea, whats the differtnce with poles and towers, are towers the massive beasts and poles the smaller ones? but yea, would my cingular phone be pulling a signal from another carriers towers? or if i have bars, MUST THERE BE A CINGULAR TOWER IN THE AREA???
     
  8. whosurbud

    whosurbud Junior Member
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    Yes and no,

    i know not what ya wanted to hear. it's not as simple as if there's a tower nearby I get full bars all the time everywhere i go. nor is it as simple as there's no tower nearby, so can't be any signal on my phone.

    here's why it's not so simple.

    Most operators use sectored antenna configurations where the coverage of the 'cells' is sliced up in to three sectors, as the technology keeps changing, to control interference/capacity they'll use narrower sectors, so u could be served by a sectored site, where your location is in between the coverage area of the sectors. neither sector being dominant (aka null area). That along with the signal may not penetrate thru obstacles very well such as dense trees, buildings, elevators, box stores with flat metal roofs and few windows, etc... but basically you can rely on the principle of if i can see you and you can see me, we can communicate.

    That being said leads to the second point, you can have a great signal from sites REALLY far away, as long as there's no obstruction between you & the serving cellsite. Along large bodies of water such as the Great Lakes for instance, there are no hills, trees & buildings over the water. CDMA may not be usable in those cases though even though there's enough signal for the phone to camp. Not 100% sure why that is, but I think it has to do with the phone not being able to punch thru the noise floor.

    GSM being a TDMA based tecnology is limited only by C/I (carrier to interference ratio) and the amount of time it takes the signals to travel back & forth. The maximum distance that can be corrected time wise, in the GSM spec I believe is 63 x 550m, or about 35 km. But in practice can be more than that depending on conditions, and network settings (i.e. - "carrier A" may not want ya to get on their system from that far away). But even if the desired signal is weak (C), and the interference (I) is weak as well, chances are good if not too far away (unlikely in urban/suburban areas), ur call will go thru and sound fine.

    U sound like u'd have a blast with a phone in field test mode.
    A must for anyone in to tower hunting, I would think.
    Armed with that, one can tell with a high degree of accuracy how far away they are from a given serving cell, as long as a call is in progress.
     
  9. wirles

    wirles I'm baaaaaaaaaack
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  10. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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    Good point, there are certain manufacturers whose handsets are able to run Field Test after some end user customization:

    Motorola - handsets have to be seem edited using tools such as P2k Manager or Motorola's PST app. You might also have to flash/flex your handset with a newer firmware release. More info here:

    http://forums.wirelessadvisor.com/motorola/11782-jays-reference-base-modding-motorola-phones.html

    HTC - maker of the Pocket PC (all models including HP) - you can try a program called NiceTrack:

    http://www.nicecuppa.net/
    http://www.nicecuppa.net/nicetrack.asp?story=1
    http://www.ascendingangels.com/nicecuppa.com/stories.asp?story=8
    Screenshots: http://www.nicecuppa.net/nicetrack.asp?story=2

    HTH,
     
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  11. COtech

    COtech Bronze Senior Member
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    Using a building roof is a plus, versus a tower. Signal is attenuated (weakened) in both directions on a transmission line, coaxial cable here for 850 and 1900 MHz.

    For a tower site, the line runs from the equipment shelter to the tower, and up the tower to the antenna. By having the site transceivers at the same height on a building roof with the antennas, you have less line for less loss.

    The receiver section gets more microvolts of signal from the antenna; more milliwatts from the transmitter section get to the antenna and are radiated.

    Wireless phone companies don't need monster towers. If one is available, you'll find their antennas in the 75 to 200 foot height range. Capacity, the number of simultaneous conversations, depends on frequency reuse. The higher the wireless phone antenna, the further away the next site will be. You need more sites operating, reusing the channels, to get capacity up. Antennas have started high, then been relocated lower down on the same tower, to add sites out on the former edge of service. Capacity is raised!

    Monster towers are good for one-way services, like broadcasting and paging (remember paging?). My first careers were two-way radio service, and then radio and television broadcast engineering operations.

    Andy84094, thanks for your recognition.

    COtech
     
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  12. wirles

    wirles I'm baaaaaaaaaack
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    There are also handsets for testing, like the Tems pocket. the TEMS system was originally created by the RF Gurus at LCC International (www.lcc.com) but was sold to Eriscsson.

    TEMS Pocket is an Ericsson mobile phone with built-in basic features for testing
    the digital air interface. It is the smallest tool on the market for this purpose.
    The network engineer can take TEMS Pocket anywhere, allowing the engineer to
    find and diagnose the less obvious problems in the air interface. TEMS Pocket
    can be used for various purposes, such as verification of digital air interfaces,
    operation and maintenance of networks, and as an aid in cell planning and network tuning

    [​IMG]

    For full blown becnhmarking, you want a 'horny toad' van with this type of set up:

    TEMS Benchmarker is a network benchmarking and quality analysis system
    that offers a "total solution" approach to network performance and,
    optimization. Providing the ability to perform comparative data collection and
    analysis, TEMS Benchmarker meets the optimization needs of management,
    engineering, operations, and marketing for wireless service providers worldwide.
    [​IMG]
     
  13. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    So is this how they really do "Can you hear me now?"
     
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  14. SteveW

    SteveW Battery mgmt is my life
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    Two more questions. This may be obvious to all, but how do I tell if a bunch of vertical panels are cell phone antennas or microwave transmitters used by State Police, Fire Depts., etc.? I'd like to contribute some MA pictures. Is there a way of double-checking what a particular tower is used for?
     
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  15. ShoresGuy

    ShoresGuy Euer WA Experte in Europa
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