Tower range

Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

Does anyone have an idea of the average or maximum range of a cell tower --
say in a suburban environemnet with trees and 2 story houses?

Thanks.

Stan
7 answers Last reply
More about tower range
  1. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    On Wed, 1 Sep 2004 17:44:50 -0400, "Stanley Naimon"
    <snaimon@comcast.net> wrote:

    >Does anyone have an idea of the average or maximum range of a cell tower --
    >say in a suburban environemnet with trees and 2 story houses?
    >
    >Thanks.
    >
    >Stan
    >
    There are three issues that drive cell tower range.

    1). Height. Cell phone is line of sight, so ultimate range is rougly
    the square root of the height the tower is about the surrounding land
    in miles. 400 feet = 20 miles. In urban areas, you tend to run out of
    transmit power before you run out of line of sight range.

    2). Power output. GSM defines several power output classes, depending
    upon the requirements. There is a minimum signal strenght required to
    maintain an acceptable call. These are typically in the 5-20 watt
    class, although up to 200 watts is defined. You may find a 200 watt on
    top a big hill in a rural area.... The 5-20 watts effectively limits
    the range to something in the 5-8 mile range, somewhat more in open
    country.

    3). Timing advance. GSM operates within narrow timing constraints, so
    that the signal arrival at the BTS has to fall within the window. To
    achieve this, the timing at the handset is 'tweaked' under BTS
    control. The limit on timing advance is 35km. If you want to get past
    35km, something has to give. It has been done in Rural Australia, but
    it means giving up 4 of the 8 time slots so that the signal from the
    handset no longer has to arrive within it's own slot. The next time
    slot is sacrificed.
  2. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "Stanley Naimon" <snaimon@comcast.net> wrote in message news:<u8ydnV8idt9J36vcRVn-tQ@comcast.com>...
    > Does anyone have an idea of the average or maximum range of a cell tower --
    > say in a suburban environemnet with trees and 2 story houses?

    It would be very hard to say, because it depends strongly on the
    location of the handset. If you are on the roof of one of those
    two-story houses, the range can be quite long. Get down on the ground
    and the range becomes much shorter. The problem is that the signal
    must travel by line of sight (more or less). If you can see the tower
    antenna, you'll probably have a full strength signal. Otherwise, the
    signal must travel along the slant range through (or around) all the
    intervening junk. What exactly is the attenuation of a UHF signal
    passing through: brick? , stone?, aluminum siding?, wood?, reinforced
    concrete? This "junk" kills radio signals PDQ. The water in trees does
    a pretty good job on signals too. If the signal can't go through, it
    might make it around by reflection and defraction but these are very
    local and hard to predict. This is why you might find a cell phone
    will work when you stand in one spot, but if you move 3 meters, it
    stops working.

    If you have to have and answer to your question, put down 3 km. It's
    as good as any other number

    Donald Newcomb
    DRNewcomb (at) attglobal (dot) net
  3. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "Stanley Naimon" wrote:

    > Does anyone have an idea of the average or maximum range of a
    > cell tower -- say in a suburban environemnet with trees and 2
    > story houses?

    Absolute maximum range for standard GSM is 35 km. This is
    dictated by the Timing Advance range being restricted to values
    between zero and 63, with each step corresponding to 553.5
    metres from the tower.

    Configuring the available timeslots in pairs, Extended Range GSM
    gives 72 km usable range, but lacks GPRS capability, and halves
    the number of concurrent calls possible. Using more sensitive
    BTS receivers, Enhanced Extended Range GSM been demonstrated to
    be usable at 120 km (with the same drawbacks as ER).

    Within these limits, usable range will depend of BTS design and
    power, antenna orientation, elevation, topography
    (obstructions), and many other factors (including the moisture
    content of any intervening foliage).

    John
  4. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "John Henderson" <jhenRemoveThis@talk21.com> wrote in message
    news:2pn31uFlgqolU1@uni-berlin.de...
    > Configuring the available timeslots in pairs, Extended Range GSM
    > gives 72 km usable range, but lacks GPRS capability, and halves
    > the number of concurrent calls possible. Using more sensitive
    > BTS receivers, Enhanced Extended Range GSM been demonstrated to
    > be usable at 120 km (with the same drawbacks as ER).

    I wonder if this is what my provider (Rogers, Canada) is doing in rural
    Saskatchewan. I have gotten service more than 35 km from a tower on several
    occasions. GPRS is still supported, but Rogers could be providing normal
    GSM at 1900 MHz and Extended Range GSM at 850 MHz.

    Jim
  5. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    >Does anyone have an idea of the average or maximum range of a cell tower --
    >say in a suburban environemnet with trees and 2 story houses?
    >

    :-)

    There are so many variables that your question really can't be answered.

    Things like -

    what are the 2 story houses made out of?
    what kind of trees?
    define suburban
    how tall are the cellular towers?
    how many are there near your location?
    What technology are we talking about?
    what kind of antennas do they have?
    what kind of phone do you have?

    etc.....

    --
    John S.
    e-mail responses to - john at kiana dot net
  6. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "Jim MacKenzie" wrote:

    > I wonder if this is what my provider (Rogers, Canada) is doing
    > in rural Saskatchewan. I have gotten service more than 35 km
    > from a tower on several occasions. GPRS is still supported,
    > but Rogers could be providing normal GSM at 1900 MHz and
    > Extended Range GSM at 850 MHz.

    Do the published coverage maps give any clues about range?
    These can be a good indicator, if they're reasonably detailed
    and accurate.

    I think an Ericsson BTS can be setup as a split standard and ER
    configuration in any case. As far as I'm aware, only Ericsson
    BTSs support ER.

    The other thing to keep in mind is that a handset's indication
    of service availability counts for little in these situations.
    It's mostly an indication of signal strength. Timing Advance
    doesn't get calculated until the handset actually transmits.
    And this happens in only 4 situations: power up/down, an
    incoming/outgoing call/SMS, expiry of the periodic location
    update timer, and any change of "camped-on" BTS were the new
    BTS has a different Location Area Code.

    John
  7. Archived from groups: alt.cellular.gsm (More info?)

    "John Henderson" <jhenRemoveThis@talk21.com> wrote in message
    news:2ppe4pFnm0meU1@uni-berlin.de...
    > Do the published coverage maps give any clues about range?
    > These can be a good indicator, if they're reasonably detailed
    > and accurate.

    They don't document tower locations, although I know where many of the
    towers are. I know this more from practical experience.

    > The other thing to keep in mind is that a handset's indication
    > of service availability counts for little in these situations.
    > It's mostly an indication of signal strength. Timing Advance
    > doesn't get calculated until the handset actually transmits.
    > And this happens in only 4 situations: power up/down, an
    > incoming/outgoing call/SMS, expiry of the periodic location
    > update timer, and any change of "camped-on" BTS were the new
    > BTS has a different Location Area Code.

    Yes. I have used a tower to place a call 35 km from the site. I have seen
    many circumstances where I have a reasonably strong signal (a couple of
    bars) and cannot place a call, so this might be a tower where extended range
    coverage hasn't been activated.

    Jim
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