Cell Phone Tower Types and Information
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A cell phone tower consists of multiple parts, most of which are owned by different companies. Typically a cell phone tower is built either by a tower company or a wireless carrier looking to expand their network and coverage.
Many inquiries that we receive actually confuse a tower with the antenna that are placed on a rooftop. “We have two towers on our roof.” What they mean to say is that we have two sets of antenna on our roof.
A cell phone tower consists of the following parts:
The Tower- There are four different types of towers.
Lattice Tower- also referred to as a self-support tower or SST, the lattice tower affords the greatest
flexibility and is often used in heavy loading conditions. A lattice tower is typically three sided
and has a triangular base, however there are some four sided lattice towers.
Monopole Tower- A monopole tower is a single tube tower. It requires one foundation and typically don't
exceed 200'. The antennas are mounted on the exterior of the tower.
Guyed Tower - Guyed towers used to be the cheapest tower to construct, but require the greatest amount of
land. For taller heights (300' and greater) it is much cheaper to build a guyed tower. Most radio and
televion towers are guyed towers. A guyed tower is a straight tower suppported by guy wires to the ground
which anchor the tower.
Stealth ® Tower –Stealth ® Towers are a particular brand of concealed towers. Previously we incorrectly referred to all concealed towers as “stealth towers” and received a letter of cease and desist from Stealth ® Towers claiming that our non-competitive use of the term stealth towers represented a violation of their trademark. Concealed towers are typically required by zoning. They are always more expensive than the other types of towers. More often than not they require additional material to create a concealed appearance and typically don't provide the same amount of capacity for tenants. Below is one of the more interesting concealed towers we have seen located at a church in California. Another manufacturer of concealed towers is Larson Camouflage. Please note that Steel in the Air is not affiliated with either Stealth ® Towers nor Larson Camouflage.
- Lattice Tower- also referred to as a self-support tower or SST, the lattice tower affords the greatest flexibility and is often used in heavy loading conditions. A lattice tower is typically three sided and has a triangular base, however there are some four sided lattice towers.
The Equipment - Each of the tenants who mounts their antenna on the cell phone tower uses transmitters installed
in cabinets or in shelters. Different wireless carriers use different means of protecting their equipment. Many
place outdoor cabinets on concrete pads, while others use premanufactured equipment shelters. This equipment is
also called the "Base Transmitter Station" or "BTS".
The Antennas - Each carrier will typically use multiple antennas on the tower. Sometimes there are as few as
three antennas, sometimes as many as eightteen antennas per carrier. As additional subscribers come onto the
carriers system the carriers need additional antennas to handle the added capacity.
- Utilities - Almost every cell phone tower site has utilities installed at the site for use by the carriers. Typically each carrier has power run to the site as well as phone service. On some cell sites, each carrier will use up to 10 T-1 lines. (See T-1 line for more details)
As you can see, "cell tower" refers to the actual tower structure. In rare cases, there are actually towers installed on the top of roofs which then in turn have antennas installed on them. Most of the time, antennas are simply attached directly to the roof either by roof mounts or platforms that rest on top of the roof.
Please see our webpage on getting a cell phone tower on your property.
Check here if you have been approached to lease your land for a cell phone tower.
If you are looking for information on siting and building a tower- please see Building A Cell Phone Tower.