Smartphone & GPS Exercise

 

For as long as I have had a cell phone, I have sort wondered what tower I am connecting to when I am at home. Yesterday, using the Network Signal Info app on my Samsung Galaxy S9, I obtained the GPS coordinates for the site that I was connect to, entered them into my Garmin DriveLuxe 51 and took a drive.

Granted, this exercise is way more technical than many, perhaps most, people are interested in doing. However, many of us here at POI Factory like learning new things.

The neat thing about this is you learn a bit more about your smartphone and, if you haven't entered GPS coordinates into your Garmin auto navigator ever, or in a while, it gives you some practice doing that.

Has anybody here done this before? Or, if, after reading this post, you do this, I would be interested in hearing your results.

It is somewhat like geocaching, but the cache should not be hard to see when you get close!

I've Used the App

Jim1348 wrote:

For as long as I have had a cell phone, I have sort wondered what tower I am connecting to when I am at home. Yesterday, using the Network Signal Info app on my Samsung Galaxy S9, I obtained the GPS coordinates for the site that I was connect to, entered them into my Garmin DriveLuxe 51 and took a drive.

Granted, this exercise is way more technical than many, perhaps most, people are interested in doing. However, many of us here at POI Factory like learning new things.

The neat thing about this is you learn a bit more about your smartphone and, if you haven't entered GPS coordinates into your Garmin auto navigator ever, or in a while, it gives you some practice doing that.

Has anybody here done this before? Or, if, after reading this post, you do this, I would be interested in hearing your results.

It is somewhat like geocaching, but the cache should not be hard to see when you get close!

I spent the last 10 years of my working career with Verizon engineering cell tower sites and I find using this app both fun and interesting.

A couple of things to keep in mind:

The closest tower, or the one you can see, is not always the one providing your cell service.

Cellular traffic often causes your individual signal to shift from tower to tower. Obviously, this happens when you are moving but it can also occur when stationary. The tower that serves your home location may not always be the same.

The database associated with the pro version of the app is not updated often enough. The cellular carriers don't own all their own towers. Many are contracted out to independent tower owners and these contracts change monthly. If you're using the pro version, be aware the information provided is not always accurate.

In any case, I get a kick out of the app and use it for fun.

Smartphone & GPS Exercise

Thank you so much for the reply. That is excellent information.

As an amateur radio operator, a few of my fellow hams are, or were, in the cell business as engineers.

My family and I actually sort of "have a foot in both camps" when it comes to cell service providers. We have Total Wireless, which is a Verizon MVNO, for four lines of service on our smartphones.

I actually use AT&T at home for internet and have a hot-spot for traveling. One of our hobbies is ATVing. We get deep into some pretty remote state forests on our ATVs. One of the things I have considered doing is creating a POI for the tower sites near the state forest where we go. The reason being that sometimes, if someone breaks down or needs assistance, there is no cell service for either AT&T or Verizon. My thought is I could check the GPS and if the closest tower was north, rather than south, I would head that way until I had service.

The good thing, though, is having BOTH something on AT&T and something on Verizon, usually there is enough signal, even if it is 1xRTT, on one of them to make a call in an emergency.

We even kicked around the idea of using a drone in an emergency. If you had no service, but put a hot spot in a drone above the tree line, could you get enough signal to make a wifi call or text. It might even be a fun experiment to try this summer!

One of my old cell phones, I

One of my old cell phones, I think a Galaxy Mini would geolocate me about a quarter mile away before zooming in. I suspect that was a cell tower location, as it always chose one of two locations to start.

GPSTest app for Android.

There is a small free open source app for Android that will show you a list or sky map of all the satellites your Android phone is currently using for its location service. The name of the app is GPSTest. It can be downloaded from the Google Play Store.

My newest phone is a 2018 Motorola MOTO 6G which I thought would be new enough to have the Galileo support. But the GPSTest app shows me I am only using US and Glonass satellites.

--
Alan - Android Auto, DriveLuxe 50LMTHD, Nuvi 3597LMTHD, Oregon 550T, Nuvi 855, Nuvi 755T, Lowrance Endura Sierra, Bosch Nyon

Signal Strength Apps

There are apps out there for finding signal strength and direction to the nearest cell tower.

Here are a few interesting articles on the subject with suggestions:

https://www.wilsonamplifiers.com/blog/best-smartphone-apps-t...

https://www.signalboosters.com/blog/best-smartphone-apps-to-...

https://www.macworld.com/article/3346027/how-to-see-your-tru...

Might Work

Jim1348 wrote:

We even kicked around the idea of using a drone in an emergency. If you had no service, but put a hot spot in a drone above the tree line, could you get enough signal to make a wifi call or text. It might even be a fun experiment to try this summer!

An interesting idea which could work in some locations. Keep in mind the signals from cell towers are "shaped" to avoid interference with other towers and to avoid wasting energy by beaming it into space. Often the signal is strongest near the ground.

It is possible to make cellular calls from an airplane but not every tower will provide this capability. Your drone may not be able to reach the necessary altitude to access one of these towers.

It would be a fun experiment though.

Here is an article you might find interesting on how to boost cellular signals:

https://www.skilledsurvival.com/cell-phone-signal-booster/

Thanks

Great Info

Thanks for the info.

Thanks for the info. Interesting conversation.

Thanks

Thanks for links to signal strength apps

Cellmapper

I had good luck with Cellmapper today.

https://www.cellmapper.net