Where is my cell phone tower location?
At Wilson Amplifiers, we're asked about cell tower maps from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and other carriers on a daily basis from people trying to improve their poor cell signal or set up a cell phone signal booster.
While all the major carriers like to show fancy colored maps illustrating their general coverage area across the US, when it comes to your nearest cell tower location, you're on your own. Google maps won't help you. Finding a cell tower near you used to be nothing but frustration.
While it helps to understand the difference between 4G and LTE, this article will show you all the websites, apps, native tools, and signal meters that will help you find a cell tower near you. These can be used to find Verizon towers, AT&T towers, T-Mobile towers, Sprint towers, and more. All of them have been personally tested, and we’ve found the ones that we believe work best.
1. Websites to Find Your Cell Tower Map
With these websites put in your zip code or address and it will tell you cell tower locations. While easy and fairly transparent, there's no way to verify if it's 100% accurate.
Cell providers are constantly adding and subtracting service on cell sites on a daily basis, so the information may be dated. However, it is a good start and when paired with the other techniques we'll mention later, it'll give you everything you need to know.
For finding towers in your area, Cellmapper.net probably provides the best and up-to-date information. It's useable but not user-friendly design takes some time to navigate. But once you do, it provides cell site locations for all major carriers.
Pro Tip: First, type in ‘310’ if you have AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint, and select which one you wish to find a tower for. If you have Verizon, type ‘311’ and select it. This coupled with your zip code or address should show the towers in your area immediately.
While it doesn't show you the cell tower/site, OpenSignal does have up-to-date coverage heatmaps for carriers around your location. So this gives you a general idea of weak and good coverage areas near you.
Powerful, But You'll Need a PhD
AntennaSearch is old, ugly, and possibly outdated, but it provides a wealth of information. You'll need some patience to comb through and click around, but it should provide some insights to cell tower location, as well as lots of extra information for the technically inclined.
CellReception shows towers and current user reviews in your area. However, it's data on cell towers seems a bit thin. Still, some data is better than no data. And it's also a nice to use when also using other methods to find your nearest cell tower.
2. How to Find Your Cell Carrier’s Nearest Tower
People automatically assume having a nationwide carrier also provides nationwide service. But in actuality, there are many pockets around the United States that aren't served by certain service providers.
It's best to do your homework and confirm your current location also has one of the four major carriers or their networks available.
Simply put in your address or zip code for your carrier:
- Can search for domestic or international coverage.
- Zoom up to sixteen times magnification.
- Map data can be filtered by voice, data, or prepaid coverage.
- Locations are searchable by address, postal code, country, or landmark.
- Locations are searchable by address, city, or postal code.
- Has interactive map
- Zoom up to six times magnification
- Can show region and route data for up to five addresses.
- Zoom up to eleven times magnification.
- Locations are searchable by address.
- Data can be filtered by voice or data coverage.
- Zoom up to twelve times magnification.
- Locations are searchable by address.
Assuming you find yourself covered, you’ll notice none of these sites show any cell towers, instead covering the land with an amorphous blob of various colors. These are coverage maps designed for marketing, so they don’t show any grades in cell coverage - all of them simply worry about “coverage,” not strength of coverage. That’s why you have spotty signal, and why finding your cell tower can be very important.
3. Smartphone Apps to Find Your Cell Tower Location
These apps use your location and then map out the closest carrier cell tower. Again, it's hard to verify if the information is 100% accurate, but it's a nice tool to have, because it gives you a general idea of nearby cell towers. After all, it's your phone, so it should be able to point to where it's getting its signal.
Network Cell Info (Highly Recommended): For Android
LTE Discovery (Recommended): For Android
AntennaPointer : For Android
These are our recommended apps to help find cell tower locations and coverage quality.
Network Cell Info Lite is our best recommendation, but is only for Android. This app not only shows your nearest cell tower, but will show its ID number as well as give you accurate dB and dBm readings showing your cellular signal strength. dBm can be used as a direct measurement of signal strength, which is far more reliable than the bars on your phone. Our professional installers use this app more than any other.
For iPhones, it's a bit tougher. As of August 2020, the best you will be able to do is find your coverage area and get a general idea of which direction your tower is.
RootMetrics shows signal quality around your area; however, it does not have a cell phone tower map finder. Still, there’s a heatmap around your location with real-world signal strength results from end-users.
LTE Discovery is powerful, in-depth, and user-friendly enough to show the best cell service in your area. It's highly recommended and often used by professionals.
While these apps don’t exactly show you how to boost network signal on Android or iPhone, they’re fairly accurate in determining the general location of your tower and providing information about the quality of signal strength in your area.
4. Use Your Smartphone's Antenna to Find Your Cell Tower Location (Highly Recommended Method)
Of course, your phone needs a signal to work, so why not reverse engineer the process to see where the closest cell tower is at?
But first a short and informative explanation about cell phone signal.
Cell phone signals are measured in dBm (decibel-milliwatts). They're basically radio waves, the AM/FM kind. All cellular devices operate within this standard:-50 dBm to -120 dBm frequency.
-50 dBm is considered full strength (full bars). -120 dBm is considered a dead zone (no service).
However, it's up to each carrier to define which dBm range correlates to the number of bars.
Simply put, there's no industry standard to dBm signal strength and the number of bars. What's 1 bar on Sprint could be 3 bars on T-Mobile could be 2 bars on Verizon, DESPITE, receiving the exact same signal and performing at the exact same speeds.
Your number of bars is subjective across all carriers!
But dBm readings are not subjective. They're pure science and math. The closer you are to -50 dB, the better your signal. The closer to -120 dB, the worse your signal. And your smartphone has the native ability to display dBm readings.
How to Access Your dBm Signal (Field Test Mode):
Starting with iOS 11 and 12, Apple has hidden dBm readings in iPhone field test mode. However, depending on your iPhone chipset (Intel or Qualcomm) and your carrier (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, or Sprint), there’s a slim chance to find your dBm readings through this workaround.
AT&T or T-Mobile iPhone with Intel chipset (iOS 11 & 12)
- Dial *3001#12345#*
- Tap LTE.
- Tap Serving Cell Meas.
- Your dBm is read as rsrp0.
Verizon or Sprint iPhone with Qualcomm chipset (iOS 11 & 12)
- Dial *3001#12345#*
- Tap 1xEV-DO.
- Your dBm is read as RX AGC0.
For any iPhone pre-iOS 11
- Dial *3001#12345#*
- Swipe down notifications bar.
- Your dBm is in the upper left-hand corner of the screen.
If you’re unable to find any of these options during your field test mode process, you most likely have an incompatible carrier and chipset. The next best method is performing a speed test around areas inside and outside your home. But once we crack the code on dBm readings on your iPhone, we’ll update as soon as possible.
Field test mode on Android varies by phone model and Android OS version. However, it is generally found under the Settings menu.
- Tap Settings
- Tap About Phone
- Tap Status or Network
- Tap SIM Status
- Your dBm is under Signal strength
Once you have your dBm reading through field test mode or app, walk around inside and outside the perimeter of your home. Make note which areas get the best dBm reading. This shows you the general direction of your cell tower and which rooms inside your home have the best reception.
5. Update your Phone to New Towers
Usually, your phone is connected to the nearest tower. However, it’s possible your carrier has installed a new tower in your area, been placed on another tower nearby, or has adjusted their towers recently. Performing a tower update is very simple, but it varies for each carrier and device.
There are three basic methods to update the latest AT&T cell tower on your iPhone:
Turn Network Off and Back On
Tap the "Airplane" icon to turn it on and then tap it again to turn it off to reconnect to the network. This is far and away the simplest method.
Download iPhone Carrier Update
- Connect your iPhone to your Wi-Fi network or the AT&T network. Swipe up on the iPhone screen to show the iPhone Control Center and then tap the “Wi-Fi” icon to turn it on.
- Tap the “Settings” icon on your iPhone’s home screen and then tap the “General” option.
- Tap “About” and then tap “Install” to install a carrier update for your iPhone if an AT&T carrier update is available.
Should these fail, try the standard off and on again strategy.
There are three basic methods to update the latest AT&T cell towers with your Android device:
Turn Network Off and Back On
Swipe down from the top of the screen to show your device’s Quick Settings menu. Tap the “Airplane” button to turn it on. Wait 10 seconds and then tap the “Airplane” button again to turn it off. Your Android phone will reconnect to the AT&T network. This is the fastest, simplest method to find the latest AT&T towers if you think you can find anything new.
Update Android Device
You can update your Android’s carrier settings by updating to the newest version of the Android OS available for your device.
- Tap the “Settings” icon on your Android phone and then tap “About device.”
- Tap the “Software Update”option and then wait for your AT&T Android phone to search for an update.
- Tap “Install Now” to install the update on your Android device. Wait for the update to download and install on your device. Once the update has installed your Android will be using the newest carrier settings and the newest AT&T towers.
Restart Android Device
Should these fail, try the standard off and on again strategy. It usually works.
Updating to the latest Verizon cell towers is a snap and can be done in several ways.
Restarting your device usually causes the location memory of your phone to reset, causing it to reach out to the nearest towers. If there’s a tower that’s popped up recently, your phone will find it.
Alternatively, you can simply dial “*288” and select “2” when prompted. This will cause your phone to update to local Verizon towers, which can take up to two minutes.
A final method is to dial “*22899” and press “Send.” A musical ringtone will play, and a recorded voice will instruct you to hold while your phone is being programmed. A few seconds later, you should hear a few beeps, and “Programming Successful” will appear on your display. Your Verizon cell towers are now updated.
To update your T-Mobile towers, you can try the AT&T method above, or this alternative restart method:
- Power off your device
- Remove your SIM card
- Wait a minute or so
- Insert SIM card and power your phone back on
- Your phone should automatically perform a T-Mobile tower update.
Updating your Sprint cell towers requires a PRL (preferred roaming list) update to your device.
- Select “Device Management”
- Choose “Update the PRL (Preferred Roaming List) on your device”
- Follow the instructions
The best method for US Cellular customers to update their cell tower is the restart method. Either go into Airplane mode on your phone (described above), or power your device off, remove your SIM card, wait a minute, replace it, and power the device back on.
6. Use a Signal Meter to Find Your Cell Tower Location (Best Results)
While using your phone in dB mode is generally a good way to find signal for most people, if you're an installer, contractor, or pro who really wants to be accurate, then getting a signal meter is a no-brainer.
It's a handheld device that pinpoints all 4G and 3G frequencies & bands, displays signal strength in dBm, and accurately gives cell tower direction within a 45 to 90-degree spread. It's a worthwhile investment for professional telecom users.
7. Finding a 5G Cell Tower Near You
The 5G network rollout has been proceeding behind the scenes - the fifth generation of cellular technology. If you live in a major city such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, or Dallas, you may be able to experience this new technology. 5G phones are now available from retailers, and are required to receive 5G service no matter your carrier.
How you'll experience it depends on your carrier. Verizon 5G uses millimeter wave technology, which consists of radio waves of a higher frequency. These are very short-range, but provide massively increased data speeds. T-Mobile 5G (and Sprint) uses 5G ultra wideband, which is at a much lower frequency. This allows for longer range, but slower data compared to millimeter wave.
To check and see if new 5G is in your area, we recommend the Ookla 5G rollout map. This map is updated weekly and is the most up-to-date 5G coverage map we could find, and it covers all US carriers.
How Do Cell Towers Work?
A cell tower, also known as a cell site, or a Base Transceiver Station, is a structure that produces cellular signal as a “cell” in a cellular network. This is accomplished with a myriad of transceivers, digital signal processors, control electronics, primary and backup electrical power, and GPS receivers. They are, at the most basic level, radio signal transmitters.
From there, it gets much more specific to each tower. Even if you live right next to a very obvious cell tower, it might not contain transceivers that utilize frequencies for your carrier, or those transceivers might be pointed away from your location.
In general terms, cell towers use power to generate radio waves at a certain frequency. Your cell phone is tuned in to a specific frequency range (or band) depending on what carrier you have and features you’re trying to use. That’s how cell towers work.
Poor Cell Phone Service? A Cell Phone Signal Booster Can Help
If you're suffering from dropped calls, unsent emails, slow loading internet, and poor signal, you basically have two options: depend on a landline WiFi connection or BOOST your cellular signal.
Cell phone signal boosters are powerful devices that reach to your nearest cell tower, pull in the signal, amplify it, and then rebroadcast the boosted signal throughout your home or office.
Here's a quick summary:
- Boosts 4G LTE, and 3G signal for all phones, hotspots, and carriers.
- Legal and FCC approved devices.
- Flexible solutions: 1-2 rooms up to 7,500 for homes, up to 100,000 sq ft for enterprise models.
- Better talk, text, and faster internet. Reliable connection & service.
- Complete kit, easy install, no monthly fees.
- More bars or YOUR MONEY BACK.