How Does a Cell Phone Tower Work?


Cell phone towers can be found in nearly every town across the globe and country. With nearly 90% of Americans owning cell phones, a powerful infrastructure has been created to enable cell service nationwide. These towers, while somewhat complex in design, work off basic technology that has been around for decades; it’s just more powerful. Using Electromagnetic Frequency (EMF) and Radiation, or radio waves, phone can connect to towers which relay information from one to the next to complete a call.

A Network of Towers

Cell phone towers are connected via underground wires to one another, but transmit data from the top of the tower through EMF radio waves. When a call is made from a cell phone (we will all this cell phone A), the nearest tower to that phone is used. The signal from cell phone A is taken in wirelessly and then through the underground network of wires, the nearest tower to the party being called is reached (cell phone B). Then a signal is produced from that tower to cell phone B and the call is connected. This happens nearly instantaneously, regardless of distance.

Cell towers currently in use are carriers for 3G and 4G services. On the horizon is 5G service, which is guaranteed to make cell phone connection speeds even faster and better than with prior levels. While it’s not clear what this will exactly look like, there are trial cities currently using 5G towers, however, cell phones are not actually capable of using the technology; cell phone companies are currently manufacturing 5G capable phones. What is known is that the number of cell towers throughout the nation, and world, are likely to at least double when 5G is fully launched.

Due to the fact that different cell companies have their own network of towers, this magnifies the number of towers any given area may have; the more companies competing for customers, the more towers you will see.

What Can Interfere with Cell Service?

The number of towers in any one location varies dramatically. Depending on population density and the terrain, you may have a tower every one-quarter mile or every 50 miles. Hills greatly impact cell phone service, as does the number of people using cell phones in the area.

The Safety of Cell Towers

The safety of cell towers, considering the amount that will soon be added to the grid, is high contended. Some studies indicate that those living within a quarter mile or less of a cell tower have a 400 times likelihood of developing cancer than those who live over a quarter mile away from a tower. This is because of the EMF’s and radiation that are transmitted and given off from the towers. More research needs to be done as the power of newly raised cell towers continues to increase.

Cell towers are made up of a complex array of networks. While the technology for how a cell phone is relatively simple, the towers themselves are not as straight forward. Ultimately cell phone towers utilize a combination of wired and wireless technology to operate.

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