the Find Cell Sites Web Site:
objective is to share
methods of determining the locations of cell
sites by legal and appropriate methods. Information here is a mixture
of publicly available information and material specifically directed to
the wireless industry. Our background is in RF technology with Radio
Direction Finding as a specialty. Please support our work by visiting
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Cell Site FAQ:
What is a cell site and how does it work?
A wireless network operates on a grid that’s divided into geographic
areas or cells. Within each geographic cell is a wireless facility or
cell site that contains low-powered radio equipment required to send
and receive calls. A
cell site uses transmitters and receivers, connected to antennas, to
provide service within its coverage area. Ideally, the areas covered by
each cell site overlap, so calls pass seamlessly from one cell site to
another as a caller moves around.
make a call, your mobile phone sends your voice or information via
radio signals to the cell site serving your area. Your call then goes
to a central facility, called a switch, that identifies the destination
for your call and forwards it via the public telephone network, the
same infrastructure landline calls use. Your call will go directly to a
landline phone or if it’s headed to another mobile phone, it will
travel to another switch, a cell site, and then be delivered via radio
How do carriers determine the location of a new cell site?
- A: Once
they determine that a new cell site is needed in a specific area to
provide reliable coverage and handle call volume, a technical team
visits the area to identify possible locations. Potential sites are
evaluated from several perspectives:
analysis: Engineers identify which location offers
the best technical solution to address coverage gaps and service needs.
permitting: Zoning specialists ensure that all local zoning,
permitting, and building codes, plus all state and federal regulations,
can be met at a location.
Site acquisition specialists look for viable leasing arrangements, such
as an amenable landlord and round-the-clock site access for technicians.
Construction managers ensure that the proposed site can be constructed
safely and will meet all municipal building codes and safety standards.
location that best meets all the above criteria is selected, the
carrier works with local officials to obtain all required permits and
negotiates a lease with the property owner. Once permits have been issued
by all local, state, and federal agencies, the facility is built,
staying in close contact with the landlord and local building
department through the construction process.
How long does it take to build a cell site?
There can be a huge variation in the amount of time it takes from when
the location for a cell site is chosen to when it becomes operational.
If a site has few objections or physical difficulties, it can be
constructed in as few as 3 months. Other sites can run into community
objections, infrastructure problems or difficult government
circumstances. These delays can add as much as 1 to 5 years to the
process, and some proposed sites never get built.