Tower Locator Help
The Tower Locator App 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 in the settings panel, which is accessed via the "gear" icon () in the toolbar of the map.
Also on the settings panel 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.
The Geolocation "crosshair" icon () in the toolbar 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
Note that the app must have location permission
in order for geolocation to work.
Once placed, the location pin may be dragged to a new position on the map at any time for reference.
The search "magnifying glass" icon () in the toolbar of the map allows you to conduct location
searches within the map. Searches can be conducted for various
geographic terms, such as cities, street addresses or GPS coordinates.
If a location is successfully
found, the map will pan and zoom to the located spot.
To 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
All the large providers have so called flanker brands. Sub brand names
they also provide service under. The flanker brands typically have
identical or near identical coverage to their parent brand so they are
not shown on the map.
Bell - Virgin Mobile, Lucky Mobile
Rogers - Fido, Chatr
Telus - Koodo, Public Mobile
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.
ISED updates the data approximately monthly. 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 at the bottom of the settings panel.
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.
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.
For any comments or questions please email towerlocator 'at' ertyu.org or use the 'Feedback' feature of the app.