on April 28, 2016 James N
At Wilson Amplifiers, we're often asked about coverage maps from AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and other carriers on a daily basis.
While all the major carriers like to show fancy colored maps illustrating their general coverage area across the US, when it comes to your specific cell tower location, you're on your own.
Well, not really. We're here to help.
Today's article will show you all the websites, apps, native tools, and signal meters that will help you find your nearest cell tower.
It's happened before. Many of our customers either buy a second home, usually a cabin in a remote, rural area, or an RV and find their new place not covered by AT&T, Verizon, or their specific carrier. So before hunting for cell tower maps and locations, make sure your area is part of your carrier's coverage map.
Simply put in your address or zip code for your carrier:
Once you can confirm your area is being covered, now it's time to find your cell tower.
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. 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.
OpenSignal.com (best of the bunch)
AntennaSearch.com (very good, but takes some time to load)
CellReception.com (good but a bit convoluted)
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.
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 dB (decibels). They're basically radio waves, the AM/FM kind. All cellular devices operate within this standard:-50 dB to -120 dB frequency.
-50 dB is considered full strength (full bars). -120 dB is considered a dead zone (no service).
However, it's up to each carrier to define which dB range correlates to the number of bars. Simply put, there's no industry standard to dB 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 dB 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 dB readings.
Here's How to Access Your dB Signal:
Once you access to your dB reading, walk outside the perimeter of your home. Depending on your carrier & phone model, it takes some time for the phone to refresh, so walk slowly and look for the number closest to -50 dB. After a couple of walk-throughs, you should have a very good idea which area of the house is receiving the best signal, therefore knowing the general direction of your cell tower.
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 3G & 4G frequencies & bands, displays signal strength in dB, and accurately gives cell tower direction within a 45 to 90-degree spread. A bit costly but worthwhile investment for professional telecom users.
If you're suffering from dropped calls, unsent email, 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 far to the cell tower, pull in the signal, amplify it up to 32X, and then rebroadcast the boosted signal into your home or office.
Here's a quick summary:
To learn more about signal boosters, click on the button below and check out our Cell Phone Signal Booster Guide. It's everything you need to know about boosting signal in the city or in the countryside.
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