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The Cellular Back Door
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Searching for Cell Sites in the Field
This is your final and active step in searching for cell sites. Get up off the couch and get some fresh air. This page will help you actually see cell sites in the wild.  Want to Go Back to the Second Step?

 Looking for Real Cell Sites:
    Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words.  However, a few pictures here are only a taste of the variations of thousands of different cell site designs.
    Your phone is all you need, some phones are better than others.  You're looking for the strongest cellular signal and there are apps for that.  In place of an app, find a way to "attenuate" the cellular signal as you get closer to your objective.  If you're just using the "bars" on your phone, you can place the phone in a metal box which can help reduce the signal and also make it directional toward the open end of the box.

    Keep in mind most app signal indicators show strength measured below a certain base level.  A -100db level would be weak and a -70db level could be very strong.  The signal from a Small Cell Site could be much weaker than a full-size site. Also, if you're looking for a cell site on a network other than your own, you'll need to use a phone that can access that other network.  Please don't drive while looking at your phone's screen!

    Getting close is good enough.  Your nearest cell could be miles away and you really don't need to climb that mountain to claim the tower up there as "found."  Some sites are in surprising locations, some are incredibly well-disguised and some cell sites may not yield a strong cellular signal even when you're close.  Small Cell Sites are particularly daunting and we have dedicated a page to these newly-evolving set of cell sites.

What Do Cell Sites Look Like?


On a Power Pole


Small Cell
Small Cell

Rooftop Omni's


Pine Tree

Building Side

Church Steeple

Clock Tower

Wireless "Village"

Inside the Sign

Palm Tree

Air Conditioner

When you find what looks like your cell site, look for an ID card to help determine the carrier. The carrier name might be on the electric meter. The FCC Tower ID may be searchable at fcc.gov. An "In Case of Trouble" or "Network Operations" phone number may be visible (call and see who answers). The old carrier name may be listed. Congratulations!

View more cell sites:
The Wireless Advisor Cell Sites Gallery

Serious Cell Site Searching

You may really want to find the exact location of a cell site.  You can still use simple equipment if you learn about serious Radio Direction Finding.  There are several sources of this knowledge including the ARRL, the association of amateur radio operators.
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