top of page

How Cell Towers Work—And How They Affect Your Signal

How Cell Towers Work—And How They Affect Your Signal

If you use a cell phone, you probably have a general understanding of how it works. You know that your phone needs a signal to operate, and that signal typically comes from a nearby cell tower. If you’re not sure how cell towers work and how they affect your signal, SureCall Boosters is here to break down the process.

What Is a Cell Tower?

When many people think about cell towers, they typically imagine a large, imposing metal tower. While there is some truth to the tower model, cell towers, occasionally known as cell sites, don’t always adhere to the same design philosophies. Sometimes, companies add cell towers onto pre-existing structures. Some common places for cell tower antennas are skyscrapers, bridges, streetlights, or water towers.

No matter what the physical construction looks like, cell towers need to be tall enough to broadcast a signal throughout a dedicated area. Companies that make these cell sites often map them out over distinct regions in a grid or honeycomb-like shape. Ensuring that each area has a cell tower that broadcasts a wide enough signal is an essential part of the process.

Who Builds Cell Towers?

Contrary to popular belief, cell service providers typically aren’t the people who build and construct cell towers. Large companies with the money and resources to buy or lease land to put up and maintain the cell towers are. WesTower is one of the main companies in Canada. The large companies in the United States are American Tower and Crown Castle.

Making and Maintaining a Tower

Not everyone who owns land can construct their own cell tower. Several vital factors go into constructing and maintaining one of these cell sites. Aside from the physical construction of the tower or antenna, companies need to connect it to an established power source. Typically, companies have a backup power source like a solar lithium battery to maintain power during an emergency.

Establishing a cell tower generally requires several safety inspections, zoning permits, legal documentation, and concurrent maintenance options in the event of an emergency. Because of everything that goes into creating a cell tower, it’s unlikely that anyone who owns land can build one of their own, and that’s typically why larger companies have the money and resources to run, build, and maintain these towers.

How Do Cell Towers Connect With Multiple Networks?

Here’s a common question people have about how cell towers work and how they affect your signal. If companies like WesTower construct cell towers, how do mobile service providers put out a signal through them?

Because cell tower construction companies lease the land and build the towers, they make money by entering a business relationship with network providers. Due to space limitations, it’s very difficult to allow all service providers access to a single tower, so it’s often an intense bidding war. The larger, more powerful providers often have the most coverage.

How Do Cell Towers Work?

In the simplest of terms, a cell tower acts as a radio signal transmitter. Cell towers or antennas have wires that connect them to a nearby base station. Base stations may connect to multiple cell sites in a general area and have the necessary equipment, such as transceivers, to receive and transmit radio signals through the cell tower antennas. The range of a cell tower often depends on the height of the antenna, and it can maintain a working range of a few miles to 30, depending on altitude and the physical terrain of the area.

Whenever you use cellular data, whether you’re sending a text, making a call, or checking your email, your phone sends out a signal and tries to connect with the signals from the tower. Once the towers pick up the signal, they send it to the base station, which sends it back out. Maintaining a connection is largely a series of fast requests of receiving and transmitting radio frequencies.

Pros of Nearby Cell Towers

Whether you have a cell tower directly on your property or nearby where you live and work, there are some distinct advantages to maintaining proximity to a cell tower.

Improved Signal

Naturally, you can maintain a stronger connection the closer you are to the source of the transmission. A significant advantage of living or working near a cell tower is a consistently stable connection. People who live farther away from cell towers may often need to invest in cell signal boosters to latch onto and amplify a weaker signal and keep a steady connection.

Increased Property Value

If you own land with a cell tower, it can generate a source of income for you. If your land has commercial property on it, many telecommunication companies will pay large amounts to lease land with a cell tower on it.

Cons of Nearby Cell Towers

Despite the advantages of having a cell tower nearby, some common concerns or issues may arise from living or working near a cell site.

Not Aesthetically Pleasing

One of the most obvious drawbacks of having a cell tower on your property or nearby is they’re often not the most visually pleasing features. In some areas, you may have an existing fixture with an attached antenna, but tall metal towers with multiple receivers don’t make the best background on a city or country skyline. You can enjoy the benefits of what a cell tower does for your signal, but they generally don’t create the most scenic view.

Health Concerns

A common concern with cell towers, especially with the uncertainty of newer 5G devices, is that they can cause cancer or make people sick. While there is some truth that cell towers and phones release radiation, it's a very small amount of non-ionizing radiation. This type of radiation at such a low level has no records of causing any negative health problems. While this may be a regular urban myth, the actual negative effects are unfounded.

Cell towers operate as tall, powerful antennas that pick up and send signals from your phone. By connecting to a main base, we can transmit signals to other towers and maintain near-instantaneous connections between mobile devices.

SureCall Boosters can help you learn more about outdoor cellular antennas and how to maintain a stable and reliable cell phone connection. We have a variety of helpful blog posts to get the most out of your cellular devices. We also offer a variety of boosters for residential and commercial use. To learn more about our products and services, don’t hesitate to reach out to us anytime via email at

How Cell Towers Work—And How They Affect Your Signal


bottom of page