Cell Tower Development-How Are Cell Tower Locations Selected?

How cell tower sites are selected, this is one the most asked questions by property owners across North America. Cell tower locations are the result of a cell phone carrier working with their internal engineering staff to satisfy specific needs that company has in certain locations throughout the country.  The engineering aspect is classified as “Radio Frequency Engineering” or RF Engineering, for short.  RF engineers must act in concert with its company’s site development  and construction staff to optimize any cell tower  site development and  related construction projects it may have scheduled.

A cell tower company has a purpose in mind for each cell tower previously built and that will be built in the future. A vast majority of times a tower development project is for the purpose of either meeting the present needs of its  cell phone customers or to help increase those same customers (as well as future customers) usage of their cell phone, internet and other wireless services.  So how does a the construction of a new cell tower improve a wireless carriers customers service the following  are  some of the ways that is a customer is enriched:

  • Signal Strength/Coverage: Cell towers are built to eliminate those locations were that cell phone company’s services are lacking also known as the hated “Dead Spot”.  RF Engineers determine where there are high rates of service interruption due to either interference or cell phone signal issues and a new cell tower will be selected and developed to eliminate these dead areas.
  • Data Usage Capacity: With cell phones being used for an increasing amount of purposes, i.e. phone calls, text messaging, data transfer, internet research etc. and with other devices like laptops, tablets and even televisions are now using wireless signals.  These are the main reasons that new cell tower locations are being constructed is to meet these growing  data usage needs and requirements.
  • Call Clarity & Network Speed:  The telecom industry is a complex industry but like most industries it relies upon getting new customers and satisfying the needs of its existing customers.  If a cell phone carrier’s customers can’t make calls or retrieve data it will not be in business very long.  So cell towers must be constructed to make sure the customer needs are met.

So What Types of Properties Are Selected?


Commercial building, municipal structures and other suitable facilities with either flat roof tops or other suitable available areas that are located in urban and industrial areas are sites that wireless carriers target.  These structures/facilities are usually at a minimum of forty (40) feet in height and with certain areas available that is suitable and meets both certain setback and structural load criteria. If a property owner has available rooftop space or other available similar space such space must not only meet the cell phone carrier’s requirements but any local municipalities’ zoning and permitting requirements as well.  As referenced above these requirements may include how much equipment may be located on a rooftop, height restrictions and even set-back requirements.

Ground Space:

Cell phone carriers must meet needs as it relates to the ground space requirements for the selection, development and construction of new towers.  The primary focus of wireless providers and tower companies is the leasing of ground space in both urban and rural areas. So why is the development still occurring? The  Answer: Development and continued construction of towers today is mostly due to the increasing capacity demands as mentioned above. Cell phone carriers are generally looking for locations that have at least 1,500 square feet of ground space.

Cell phone carriers are always reviewing areas to make sure that they are meeting the needs of their customers.  As these needs are determined and the cell phone carriers have the capital budgets needed to satisfy these cell tower build-out requirements in order to build these facilities will be constructed. Cell phones, wireless hand-held  devices and other devices dependent upon a wireless signal are not going to disappear as they are more and more becoming not only the most important communication device a person has but also quickly becoming that same persons most important source of data transfer and internet research.

If you have been presented with an opportunity by a cell phone carrier or tower company to lease either rooftop or ground space, we invite you to contact Vertical Consultants to discuss this opportunity and how you can optimize it.

If you are a property owner looking to maximize your chances of getting a cell tower or rooftop equipment we ask you to contact our sister company, Vertical Developments, which works with property owner to get revenue producing cell phone equipment on their properties.


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