Wireless tower locations. and, What's your best distance?
Here is a helpful link for anyone wanting to know the precise locations of wireless radio towers.
This helpful search engine will search by state and city and provide a listing of all wireless radio towers in the immediate area. The search will also provide the tower's owner/service provider, elevation and more importantly its precise latitude and longitude. Once you have identified a particular tower, you may also search for additional towers within a 10, 20, 50 or 100 miles radius.
The search results will also provide a map of each tower's location. Click on the map and it will take you to the tiger.census.gov web site where you can fiddle with the settings and print the map. However, I have found that their maps leave a lot to be desired for towers located in rural areas, which is probably why you would be searching for one in the first place. So, I use Delorme's Street Atlas USA program to pinpoint a tower's precise location.
To find a tower's precise location in Street Atlas USA, go to the Latitude/Longitude search feature and enter the tower's coordinates. Presto, the mapping program finds the location, which will be exactly in the middle of the map. Now, place the cursor in the center of the map, right click the mouse, select "Lat/Lon Map Note" and you've got a detailed note to mark the location. Next, "back-out" on the map by several magnifications and you'll see streets, placenames, highways, cities and the surrounding area to get the big picture.
Helpful Hint: The Latitude/Longitude search leaves out an important default. When searching the Street Atlas USA for tower locations in the United States (duh, where else will it search?), use the letter N (for north) to precede the digits for Latitude and W (west) for Longitude. Otherwise, Street Atlas will take you to Outer Mongolia or some other interesting and exotic place. Of course you won't know where in the world you are since it only shows street location for the US.
Perhaps Delorme didn't use the N & W defaults just in case you might have a need to do a Latitude/Longitude search in the Aleutian Islands. Since the islands straddle the International Dateline, one might find it necessary to use an E (east) instead of a W (west) to get the precise longitudinal (wow, that one sent me to the dictionary) position. Of course my personal opinion is that the software engineer's just weren't thinking ahead since they obviously should have defaulted all the Lat/Long searches to the mainland. Well, that's quite enough of my ranting for now, I'm way off topic anyway.
I would like to throw an idea out here in the group. Can we get some veteran road warriors out there to test the limits of their cell phone connections? By that I mean establish some distant limits between the cell phone and the nearest (but distant) tower.
I will be in Montana's back country this fall and I'd like to know if it would be possible for me to get a connection from a tower that'll be up to 40 miles distant. I am fairly certain that I can get a "line-of-sight" on the tower if I can gain a little elevation, which I believe is possible. I have thought about rigging up a parabolic antenna or something like that in order to get a connection going out of a very remote place. If anyone has any ideas about how to accomplish this pass 'em on.
I haven't purchased my phone yet, but I know that I will need a dual band model. Montana has no digital service providers yet but some other areas that I will visit do offer digital. My needs are to have both voice capability and data connection to a laptop. I will need to download e-mail messages with attached text and jpeg files. The text files will be 24K to 30K in size. The jpeg files will typically range from 45K to 110K in size and average about 70K. I will assume that it's best if each e-mail has a single file attachment in case the conection is broken before downloading all the messages. Typically, I will be downloading 7 to 9 e-mails for each "assignment" and I could receive multiple assignments each day, up to 4 or 5, but probably only 1 or 2. Also, if I am unable to connect for a day or two my e-mail will start to back-up. My uploading isn't so extreme. Maybe 1 or 2 e-mails with attached 28K text files per day.
So far as my service goes, let me hear some ideas on that too. I will need roaming of course, plus analog service and the digital CDPD and BSWD coverage. I've read Craig's posting that idicated the AT&T service was pretty good and I like the idea of no roaming charges. I've considered AT&T and looked at their packages, but haven't made any decisions yet. Has anyone had experience with Go America? They offer both CDPD and BSWD.
Regarding the distance thing mentioned above, please give as many details as possible such as your phone's make and model. What type of antenna (if different from the original) and the battery power at the time the connection was made. Was the signal analog or digital? How was the distance determined? I'll post my results after returning from Montana but I'd like to get some idea before leaving to see if there is any hope at all to make a connection.
By the way RW, I really love the way you've set up the forum.
CTIA News soon
Great queries. I am in New Orleans at the CTIA show and will look for some useful current information. Back soon.
Yagi and AirStar100
As far as using digital service, you might want to consider using AirDesk's new product the AirStar-100. It is an digital interface that was developed for credit card transactions in mobile locations.
Also if you access to a knowledgeable RF person, you might consider having them match a Yagi antenna to the AirStar-100 for your long-distance needs. A properly tuned Yagi could bump up your RF-gain to over 16dB and may enable you to reach cellular towers beyond the 40 mile threshold.
For more information about the AirStar, call 1-800-airdesk or www.800airdesk.com Currently the AirStar only supports the StarTAC 800 Mhz CDMA & TDMA, PCS 1.9Ghz & AMPS 800Mhz.
In the AMPS network, you may be better served by a dedicated AMPS transceiver. I like the CDL900 created by IDC and Standard Communications, (www.standardcomm.com)
Some more Antenna information
Message from Liza Natitus from AirDesk, Inc:
I spoke to Dave Wilson who is our Enterprise Sales Manager. He informed me
that the AirSTAR(tm) 100 will work with any dual-band antenna with a TNC
connector. Therefore, it will work with the following;
1. Yagi Antenna
2. Roof Mount
3. Magnet Mount
4. Marine Mount
5. Low Profile Surface Mount
6. Mirror Mount