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How to Find Cell Phone Tower Locations

Finding the nearest cell phone tower

Cell phones are the most amazing invention ever. They are the best medium of communication and can keep you connected to information that was never even REMOTELY possible years ago. Cellular phones make life much easier and more convenient. Most people in the world are linked by cellular technology. But, this convenient technology is only possible if you are within range of a cell tower to serve your phone. Luckily, there are some great ways to find the nearest cell phone tower.

Even though we’re living in more connected world than ever, there are still areas with poor cellular signals. There are many different reasons why you might not be getting the signal you think you should be. It could be a result of buildings, mountains or other obstacles blocking your signal. Most commonly, a lack of cell phone service is due to your distance away from the nearest cell phone tower. 

The very first step to improve the quality of your cellular signal in your business or home (or installing a cell phone signal booster) is locating the nearest cell phone tower. 

Ways to Find the Nearest Cell Phone Tower

When you buy service from a cell carrier, you naturally assume that a huge, national carrier will also provide nationwide service. But it’s not true! There are many regions in a provider’s service area that usually remain under-served. The carriers would like to blanket the entire earth with service, but sometimes it’s not equitable to fire up a new cell tower to cover an area filled with jackrabbits and sagebrush. Most jackrabbits I know don’t have phones yet. 

Here are some ways to find the best cell phone tower locations near you.

Check the Coverage Maps

Before signing up for that 2-year contract with that amazing new phone, make sure your carrier has adequate coverage available in the areas you will want to have use your phone.

The simplest way to determine coverage is by checking the carrier coverage maps. While not always COMPLETELY accurate, they will give you a general idea of whether or not you should be able to expect coverage in a given region.

  1. Verizon’s coverage map
  2. AT&T coverage map
  3. Sprint’s coverage map
  4. T-mobile’s coverage map

Use Your Cell Phone

One of the most effective ways to find cell tower locations is to use your cell phone. Every phone displays the signal strength on screen. You can use that feature to find the general direction of your nearest located tower.  

Most phones have a mode that will show you a built-in decibel meter to  help you determine the area with highest signal strength. Whenever your phone indicates a stronger signal it could mean that a cell tower is closer to that location.

Decibels are measured in negative numbers. A negative 110 (-110) or less number is generally a pretty poor signal. A negative 85 (-85) or better signal is generally considered a great signal.

Use Third Party Websites

There are third party websites available that can be helpful in determining the nearest tower locations in your area. You put in your zip code or address and the site will return the location of towers near you. Since the data on most of these sites is user-generated, there may be issues with the accuracy of the information.

Some sites that I recommend:

Provides the best, most updated information for finding the towers in your location.

This website shows towers with latest user reviews in your location.

This service is somewhat old and probably outdated, but once you get a hang of it you can receive a wealth of information.

The “go-to” service for users looking for cell tower locations. It shows the results according to signal strength.

Use Third Party Apps

apps for finding nearest cell phone tower
Many apps are available to help you find the nearest cell phone tower

There are a lot of really good apps available in the app stores for helping you to find the nearest cell phone tower. OpenSignal, RootMetrics, Network Signal Info and LTE Discovery are just a few of those. 

My personal favorite is OpenSignal. It takes a while for the information to populate in the app, but after it does, it will show you the compass direction of the nearest tower. It also overlays coverage maps and has readings that other users have received at nearby locations.

Professional Signal Meter

Most professional signal booster installers use a signal meter to find the best location. The SureCall Signal Meter Kit is my personal favorite. I hook up a Yagi antenna to the antenna port of the signal meter and I can aim the antenna to the nearest cell phone tower and ensure great coverage. Its magical!

You can buy a SureCall Signal Meter Kit here in my shop.

If you’re still having trouble, feel free to drop me an email contact@cellbooster.us.

I’m always interested in hearing about what you’ve got going on!

Thanks for stopping by!

– Rob

Cell Signal Booster Hacks

Surely, you’ve experienced it before. You invest money into some new-fangled invention and expect it to change your world. I’ve been left disappointed by technology on more than one occasion. A SureCall cell phone signal booster should almost NEVER leave you with that disappointed feeling. In this article, we’ll explore a few cell signal booster hacks that might help you get more from your booster.

First off, cell phone signal boosters are not magic. Because they aren’t magic, they will not create cell phone signal where none currently exists. They take a crappy signal and make it a little less crappy. Sometimes the little less crappy version of the signal is enough to bring LTE Nirvana. Sometimes not.

You are never going to get blood out of a turnip, but before throwing in the towel, there are a few simple things that you can do to try to get a little more from your booster.

Change The Outside Antenna

One of the simplest things that you can do to get more coverage from your booster is to replace the outside antenna with one that has a little more oomph. If you have an omnidirectional outdoor antenna like this one:

Exterior Omni Antenna

You can easily replace it with the Yagi directional version of that antenna and aim it towards the nearest cell phone tower to get a lot more “bang for your buck.”

SureCall SC-231W wide band directional antenna

There are a few online tools that you can use to find your nearest cell phone tower. All you have to do is aim your new antenna towards the tower, or use this handy Signal Meter to help you dial it in for max signal gain.

Get Rid Of Excess Cable

Every cell phone signal booster kit comes with the necessary cable for installation. Sometimes, the pre-terminated cable that comes with your booster is longer than you need. In those cases, you will likely end up with a coil of extra cable. Cutting off this extra cable and re-terminating the connector is a great way to remove extra loss. Removing this extra loss will help to increase the overall booster performance. This is a great cell signal booster hack that costs very little to implement.

To shorten a cable, cut one end off at the desired length. Strip back the shield and the foil or braid, and crimp on a new connector. It’s really pretty easy to do. For a standard Fusion4Home Omni/Whip Kit, the included 50-feet of RG-6 cable can cause about 3.5 dB of loss (@ 1000 MHz). Cutting that cable in half will reduce that loss by half. Just to give you an idea, removing 6db of loss will double your coverage area.

 

Upgrade The Cable

Another of the great cell signal booster hacks is to upgrade the cable in the system. If you have installed your booster using cheaper RG-6 coaxial cable, you can almost halve the amount of loss by changing out the cable with a lower loss cable like RG-11. For example, with the Fusion2Go 3.0 RV Kit, you could get an increased 2-3 dB of signal over the 40-foot length by replacing that cable with a better low-loss cable like SC-400.

Fusion2Go 3.0 RV Antenna Cable

SureCall 400 Black Coax Cable 100 foot SC-001-100

Cable replacement isn’t the easiest or cheapest way to increase your booster system’s performance, but it is a really great hack that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Replace The Inside Antenna

The last of the cell signal booster hacks that I will share in this post is that of replacing the indoor antenna. Replacing the indoor antenna with a dome or panel antenna isn’t always feasible. But, in situations where it is possible without causing oscillation, replacing an indoor whip antenna like the one included in the Fusion4Home Panel/Whip kit with a directional indoor antenna can provide an additional 6-7 dB of gain.

Fusion2Go 3.0 RV Interior Whip Antenna

SureCall Wide Band Panel Antenna SC-248W

As a reminder, 6 dB of gain should DOUBLE your coverage area.

Summary

In summation, reducing cable loss whenever possible and changing out antennas for better, higher-gain antennas are great ways to increase booster performance. If these little hacks don’t help, then you could always get a better amplifier. There’s tons of different options out there!

If you need any help figuring this stuff out, just drop me an email to contact@cellbooster.us and I will be happy to help you figure it all out. Thanks for stopping by!

– Rob

Now Selling RF Explorer Handheld Spectrum Analyzers

We are proud to announce that we are now officially selling the entire line of RF Explorer handheld spectrum analyzers and signal generators. RF Explorer manufactures a very affordable hand-held spectrum analyzer that fits into any budget… and now you can get one directly from us! Spectrum analyzers are a great way to measure your cell phone signal strength levels (or other RF signals) to see how strong or weak they are being received. (More about that later.)

What is a Spectrum Analyzer anyway?

Rohde & Schwarz Spectrum Analyzer
Rohde & Schwarz Spectrum Analyzer
I thought you’d never ask! You’ll find the official Wikipedia definition of spectrum analyzer here. But to paraphrase, (and save you 30 minutes of your life that you will never get back) a spectrum analyzer is a nifty little device that lets you “see” what RF frequencies around you are doing. It takes the RF energy that it receives from the connected antenna and outputs that information on a visual display. This display gives you visual representation of how strongly or weakly the RF frequency that you are looking at is being received at the antenna of the spectrum analyzer. It can also give you a bunch of other readings that are helpful if you are a true RF geek.

In other words, a spectrum analyzer basically gives you a visual readout of whatever frequencies exist in the range that you have specified and the strength of the RF received at those frequencies. If that doesn’t make sense, you might need to brush up on your RF skills by quickly skimming through this article titled “What Frequency Does My Cell Phone Use” that I wrote a while ago about RF.

Why Do I Need a Spectrum Analyzer?

It’s a tool. You never need an excuse to have another tool. In fact, I’m usually looking for excuses to justify the purchase of a new tool. In fact, just last week I needed to dig a really deep hole for a basketball hoop that I was putting in for the kids. For some reason, I didn’t have a digging bar in my pathetic arsenal of tools. I could have borrowed one from a friend, he even offered it to me… but I decided to get my own (thanks anyway, Tyler)… because it’s a TOOL and I needed one. Tools are awesome! You can never have enough tools.

RF Explorer Handheld Spectrum Analyzers

Anyways, if you are looking for reasons to own one of these spectrum analyzers, here’s a list of reasons you might need one:

List of Reasons:
  1. It is a tool (see above).
  2. It’s basically the only way there is to measure (RFI) radio frequency interference. I can double check to see if that radio tower behind my house is broadcasting within their licensed power limit and bandwidth.
  3. Using one before installing a cellphone signal booster can give you an idea of where is the best location to put your outside antenna. It can also give you a good idea of where the cellular dead zones are in your house or building.
  4. It can be a troubleshooting tool to help you identify faulty devices. For example, If my laptop gets a terrible wifi connection I might assume that my wifi access point is bad. But if I take a reading with the spectrum analyzer and notice that it gets a good reading on the wifi band, I might have to blame my laptop instead.
  5. All kinds of sweet electronics projects.
  6. If I notice that my wifi always takes a dive when I fire up the microwave to warm up my frozen burrito, then I could use one of my nifty RF Explorer handheld spectrum analyzers to verify that my microwave isn’t properly shielded and that it’s been bombarding me with radiation.
  7. I could verify if my neighbor is transmitting his own pirate radio station.
  8. I could use one to sweep my house for wireless transmitting bugs (put on your tinfoil hat) to see if the FBI is using wireless technologies to monitor my private conversations.

In all seriousness though, with almost everything now days becoming wireless, having a good tool to measure those frequencies is really worth having around when you need it. RF is very complex and dealing with it is only feasible if you have the right tool in hand.

Why RF Explorer Handheld Spectrum Analyzers?

RF Explorer Handheld Spectrum Analyzers

 

For as long as I can remember, spectrum analyzers have always been super expensive. Like, many thousands of dollars. Even refurbished, used spectrum analyzers have traditionally been 1-3 thousand dollars. And they have traditionally been HUGE too. Like, take up the entire desk huge. And traditionally, operating a network analyzer required a degree in nerd to be able to do anything more than just turn them on.

That is what makes the RF Explorer handheld spectrum analyzers so amazing! They offer 90% of the features that their expensive big brothers do at about 5% of the cost. They are also much smaller, super portable compared to the ginormous expensive ones. Also, they can run for hours on a single battery charge. The “portable” versions of the expensive network analyzers are still comparatively massive.

I’m amazed at how well they function and I’m totally recommending them for anyone that would like to elevate their RF ninja status to expert level.

Conclusion

Don’t forget that I am more than happy to sell you some of my RF Explorer handheld spectrum analyzers here in my store. ****LINK TO STORE****

If you have any questions about the capabilities of any of the RF Explorer products that we carry,( or anything else for that matter) please feel free to drop me an email to contact@cellbooster.us and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. As always, thanks for stopping by!

– Rob

SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV vs weBoost Drive 4G-X RV

SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV vs weBoost Drive 4G-X RV
Photo by Alan Caldwell from Pexels

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to compare the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV vs weBoost Drive 4G-X RV. We tested both RV kits at a location we found with terrible cell phone reception.

I temporarily installed both booster kits and made a series of test calls and data speed tests to see if one booster would perform better than the other. I had a friend there to help me film the results, and I was pretty surprised at the difference in performance.

Here’s a quick teaser video that gives a briefer overview of the test results:

Test Procedure

We used the following procedures to compare the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV vs weBoost Drive 4G-X RV kits.

  • I mounted both the SureCall and the weBoost antenna to the ladder on the back of the RV.

The SureCall antenna mounting kit was better suited for the smaller diameter of the ladder rails on this particular RV. Because the nuts ran all the way to the end on the U-bolts that came with the weBoost outdoor antenna, it wasn’t quite enough to secure the antenna to the ladder. On the other hand, the U-bolts that came with the SureCall outdoor antenna had more room. I was able to firmly secure the antenna to the ladder with the SureCall U-bolts.

  • I ran the wires to a centrally-located area in the RV.

Because this was just a temporary test (I didn’t want to drill any holes into the side of the RV that I borrowed from a friend), I did a really quick, rough installation by running the wires along the top of the RV and then poking them through the kitchen window.

  • I plugged the devices in, one at a time and made a few phone calls and then ran several bandwidth tests using the “speedtest.net” app.

For the tests in this video, I made sure that the phone was the same distance away from the inside antenna for each booster. Then, I performed the download tests 5 times and the average speeds of those 5 tests are the mentioned numbers.

  • Different antennas were tried in differing configurations to see which one gave the best performance.

First, we tried both boosters with their configuration out of the box. Then, we tried differing configurations. The different tests and their results are outlined below in greater detail.

Test Results

  • Test 1: Out of the Box.

First, I tested the boosters as they come out of the box. In this test, the Fusion2Go 3.0 RV beat out the weBoost Drive 4G-X Rv with a download speed of 2.85 Mbps and completed all 5 tests. The Drive 4G-X RV failed 3 tests and came in with a download speed of 1.66.

SureCall – 2.85 Mbps Download and .18 Mbps Upload.

weBoost – 1.66 Mbps Download and .03 Mbps Upload.

  • Test 2: Optional Antennas SureCall.

Next, I tested the optional antenna that came with the Fusion2Go 3.0 RV. It actually beat the previous results with a 3.97 Mbps Download .29 Mbps Upload. The Drive 4G-X RV does not come with any additional antennas so I had nothing to compare here.

SureCall – 3.97 Mbps Download .29 Mbps Upload.

weBoost – This booster comes with only one antenna.

  • Test 3: Stationary Yagi Antenna SureCall

Finally I tested the two boosters with a higher gain Yagi antenna. Again, the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV beat the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV hands down with a whopping 18.7 Mbps download speed over the 3.43 Mbps down that weBoost provided.

SureCall – 18.7 Mbps Download .87 Upload.

weBoost – 3.43 Mbps Download .05 Upload.

The Full Video

Here’s the lengthier video comparison:

My Conclusions

For me, performance is the most important factor to consider when comparing cell phone signal boosters. The results of this test were very clear. When comparing the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV vs weBoost Drive 4G-X RV, the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV kit is the undisputed champion. The SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV Kit clearly out-performed the weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Kit.

Fusion2Go 3.0 RV Kit

So, If you are looking for a reliable cell phone signal booster for an RV, I would definitely recommend the SureCall Fusion2Go 3.0 RV cell phone signal booster kit. In my tests, I found that it easily outperformed the WeBoost Drive 4G-X RV booster.

If you are looking for the vehicle cell phone signal booster that I tested in this video, you can find the Fusion2Go 3.0 RV Kit here in my store.

As always, if you have any questions or need help in figuring out which cell phone signal booster is right for your situation, please feel free to drop me an email to rob@cellbooster.us. I love this stuff and I’m always happy to help out!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Rob

SureCall Fusion5x 2.0

Recently, SureCall released a new and improved version of their Fusion5X cell phone signal booster… creatively called the Fusion5X 2.0. The Fusion5X 2.0 is part of SureCall’s line-up of products for midsize-to-large homes and offices. The original Fusion5X has been discontinued and replaced with the Fusion5X 2.0.

The major difference between the Fusion5X 2.0 and the previous is that the newer has much higher downlink power. Because of this increased downlink power, the Fusion5X 2.0 has the ability to cover about double the area of the original. Not only does it cover more area than its predecessor, but the Fusion5X 2.0 can also cover double the area of it’s closest competitor.

What is Downlink Power Anyway?

The downlink is the signal that the cell phone receives from the cell phone tower. Now, the Fusion5X 2.0 is capable of up to +16 dBm of downlink power. Most competitor products, and the previous Fusion5X model are only capable of +10 dBm of downlink power. So, this new Fusion5X booster has +6 dBm higher downlink power than anything comparitive on the market.

So, what does an extra +6 dBm get you? In theory, it will give you about twice the coverage area. That means more of your home or office area will be swimming in great cell phone signal. Of course, like with all cell phone signal boosters, you will need to have as good an outside signal as possible to truly take advantage of all the gain and potential that the Fusion5X can provide.

Other Features

The SureCall Fusion5x 2.0 has what SureCall is now calling SureIQ technology. Basically, SureIQ technology is a fancy new version of the internal software that allows the booster to perform better in urban environments. This new technology prevents the booster from prematurely shutting down or backing off power when it’s not absolutely necessary. It uses a better method of self-adjustment that works constantly in the background to make sure that you are getting the most out of your signal booster.

Also, the Fusion5X 2.0 is compatible with the SureCall Sentry monitoring system. The Sentry system allows for remote control and monitoring of the cell phone signal booster’s performance and status.

Where to Use

SureCall Fusion5X Omni 4 Panel Diagram SC-Poly5X-72-OP4-Kit

SureCall Fusion5X Omni 4 Dome Diagram SC-Poly5X-72-OD4-Kit

The SureCall Fusion5X 2.0 is a great booster for mid-size to large offices and homes. Conveniently, this booster is available in several different kits, depending on the area that you are trying to cover. These kits come with all the antennas, splitters and cables that you will need for a complete install.

The kits come with either an Omni or a Yagi outdoor antenna, and options for either one or four indoor panel or dome antennas. While SureCall will no longer tell you a square footage that this Fusion5X kit will cover, past spec sheets have placed the amount of square footage in the range of “up to 20,000 square feet.” And with the extra +6 dBm of downlink power, it is feasible that this Fusion5X 2.0 booster could cover up to 40,000 square feet.

Different Fusion5X 2.0 Kits

 

Do you have an application that you think might be a fit for the Fusion5X 2.0? I’d be more than happy to sell you one here in my online store. If you have any questions or concerns, I would love to hear from you. Drop me an email to contact@cellbooster.us and I’m always happy to help out where I can.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

– Rob