Map BasicsThe 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. Sites for the "big three" providers, Bell, Rogers and Telus can be selected individually. Sites for all providers other than the "big three" can be selected as an entire group or for one provider individually through the drop down box listing the other providers. All or a combination of these options can be selected at one time.
Common map features are available, such as road, terrain, topographic and satellite imagery map backgrounds with pan and zoom.
GeolocationThe Geolocation "crosshair" 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 () 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.
Once placed, 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 SearchAt 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 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 LinkThe 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 DetailsTo obtain more details about any tower site on the map, click on 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 DetailsEach 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.
Note: There has been an ongoing issue with the power levels being reported, as such I've removed the units from the display. The values are supposed to be EIRP, however the data is not consistent with that. For the most part, it appears that each provider is reporting all their sites in a consistent manor, however the providers are doing something different from each other.
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/GenerationInformation 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 200kHz of 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. As the dominant technology now, LTE is deployed on many frequencies with varying bandwidths that mostly depend on the licenses the provider has obtained.
Tower Location vs Service and CoverageThe 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 Bell 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.