Cell Tower

What Does Cell Tower Mean?

A cell tower houses the electronic communications equipment along with an antenna to support cellular communication in a network. A cell tower is usually an
elevated structure with the antenna, transmitters and receivers located at the top.


A cell tower also known as cellular tower or cell site.

Techopedia Explains Cell Tower

Cell towers are usually placed so that they can cover a wide
area. The working range of a cell tower depends on many factors, such as:

  • Rated power of the transmitter
  • Frequency of signal
  • Height of the
    antenna above its surroundings
  • Required uplink/downlink data rate of the
    customer’s device
  • Reflection or absorption of radio energy by nearby buildings
    or vegetation
  • Weather conditions
  • Geographical or regulatory factors

towers are grouped in geographical locations where the population density is
high and there are likely to be large numbers of cell phone users. This helps in avoiding saturation of the available capacity, which could result in busy
signals and unhappy consumers. Cell phones are designed to be aware of the
nearest tower. This is shown to the user in the form of signal strength, which
represents the connectivity strength between the user’s location and the
nearest tower providing the service. When a user makes a call, the radio signal
emitted searches for the nearest tower. The receiving antenna of the cell tower
then picks up the radio signal and starts the process of finding the caller. Once
found, the radio signals are transmitted back to the user and the communication
is established with back-and-forth passing of the radio signals.

The primary
function of a cell tower is to ensure proper elevation to antennas that receive
and transmit radio-frequency signals from cell phones and other devices. Sometimes to
accommodate community aesthetic concerns, cell towers are camouflaged to
resemble trees or flagpoles. For basic functioning, cell towers are expected to be adjacent to a road for physical access with availability of
telecommunications network connectivity and electrical power. Mobile service
providers usually configure adjacent cell towers to make use of different frequencies.
This helps in avoiding any “confusion” among handsets about which tower antenna
to be used for connection.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.