Canadian Cellular Towers Map - Help and Information

Map Basics

The Canadian Cellular Towers Map presents the locations of tower sites for each licensed wireless provider. Each site is indicated by a colour coded icon positioned on the map. A legend is present at the bottom of the map.

Included with the legend are controls to select individual providers to be displayed on the map. Selection options include displaying all sites on the map, sites for the "big three" providers, Bell, Rogers and Telus individually, sites for all providers other than the "big three" as group or each individually through the drop down box listing the other providers.

Common Google Map features are available, such as road, terrain and satellite map backgrounds with pan and zoom. Street view imagery can also be used, but no tower icons are displayed within street view. 45° imagery is not currently available.

Geolocation

The Geolocation link at the upper left of the map initiates the process of determining your geographic location via GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth or other available location methods. This process may take several seconds. If successful, the map will pan and zoom to the calculated location and a location pin (Location Pin) will be placed on the map at the current estimated position along with a circle indicating the estimated error in the determined location.

Note that most web browsers will ask for permission to share your position with the website. If permission wasn't granted or geolocation was unsuccessful, an option to continue with manual location is presented. With manual location a location pin will be placed at the current centre point of the map view.

The location pin may be dragged to a new position on the map at any time for reference.

Most browsers will remember the choice of whether to share your location with the site and not ask again. Some also have an option of deferring the decision, for example, selecting "Not Now" or closing the permission window before making a decision. In the case of a deferred decision, manual location may not be available.

Location Search

At the top centre of the map is a text entry box to conduct location searches within the map. Searches can be conducted for various geographic terms, such as cities, street addresses, postal codes or GPS coordinates. After entering the desired search term, pressing enter or the GO button will initiate the search. If a location is successfully found, the map will pan and zoom to the located spot.

Map Link

The Map Link at the upper right of the map is a real time link to the current map being viewed, including the location, zoom, background map layer and selected providers. Like a normal web link, it can be copied or clicked on for sharing, bookmarking or any other use desired.

Tower Details

To obtain more details about any tower site on the map, click the tower icon of interest. A pop up window will present the site or a list of sites that were clicked on, indicating the provider of the site and a list of the frequency bands they are operating on at the site. Each provider site listed can be further clicked to provide even more details about the site.

Additional Details

Each transceiver (transmitter/receiver) operating for the provider at the site will be listed. A transceiver and it's antenna creates the "cell" for communications and there are typically several operating at each site.

Included with the transceiver details are the frequency band of operation, the bandwidth and power of the communications signal, the height of the transceivers' antenna above the ground and the elevation where the site is located. The antenna azimuth indicates the angle from true north of the direction of maximum radiated power. An omni directional antenna usually has an azimuth of 0°.

The site provider and geographic coordinates of the site are presented at the top of the list.

If the location pin is present on the map after geolocation, manual location or after being dragged, the distance and true north bearing from the location pin to the tower site will be presented at the bottom of the list.

Protocol/Technology/Generation

Information about the protocol being used on a transceiver is not present in the available data. However one can make an educated guess based on the provider, frequency band and bandwidth of the signal.

For example, GSM or 2G technology uses a 200kHz bandwidth and is typically operated by Rogers on 850 and 1900MHz bands. Basic CDMA(2G) operation requires 1.25MHz of bandwidth, while later versions that included data like 1xRTT(2.5G) or EVDO(3G) require multiples of 1.25MHz bandwidth. HSPA(3G) requires 5MHz with later versions of HSPA such as DC-HSPA, requiring multiples of 5MHz. LTE(4G) can operate with a wide range of bandwidths, but is typically deployed with 10 or 20MHz of bandwidth and most commonly on the 2100 and 2600MHz bands.

Tower Location vs Service and Coverage

The presence of a tower doesn't always imply service and coverage, nor does the absence of one convey no service or coverage. It's all in the details.

For starters, a tower may not provide service for all protocols on all frequencies. The device you are using may not support any compatible set of services present on a tower. This is less common today as most service is 3G and LTE and most phones support both protocols on all common frequencies.

The tower may not provide a simple large circular coverage footprint. It may be a very narrow short range wedge, another shape or a combination of shapes, or there may be obstacles between the tower and the location that degrades or prevents use. The details available on the map can help indicate this with the power, height and azimuth of the transceivers.

Further, many providers have sharing and roaming provisions which are not always obvious or indicated. For example, Bell and Telus have extensive sharing agreements across the country, where each may not have any towers in an area, but will provide direct service. Similarly MTS and Rogers have a sharing arrangement within Manitoba. Most providers have numerous roaming or extended roaming agreements where their customers can obtain service from another party where they don't have coverage. This service may be an extra charge or included.

Data Source

The map is generated from data submitted by the wireless providers to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED, formerly Industry Canada), under condition of their wireless spectrum licenses. ISED compiles the information and makes it available in their Spectrum Management System, along with information for many other spectrum licenses. The pertinent data for cellular services is filtered out of the data and modified into a format for presentation on the map.

Data Updates

In the past ISED has updated the data each month. Shortly after new data is available it is integrated into the map after some processing and quality control. The date of the last data update for the map is indicated just below the map.

NOTE: ISED has been involved in a system update since May 2015. They have been providing very sporadic data updates since then with significant issues noted.

Missing Sites

The quality of the data provided is quite good but it is not perfect and there may be errors or omissions in what is presented on the map. Most commonly it has been noted that a site may be missing. This may be a result of a delay in providing information for a new site, a simple omission, an inactive site or some other error that originates with the provider's data, their submission to ISED, ISED's processing of the data or the processing involved to create the map. Some of these issues are corrected with the next subsequent update, others may persist much longer.

US Version

A US version of the map is not available. The FCC in the US does not require submission of tower sites or catalog all site data to make a map possible.

Mobile Applications

The map can be accessed and used on mobile web browsers. A more tailored experienced is offered by mobile applications available for Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Click the appropriate app store icon to download the application.