The telephone antennas are everywhere, in the city and in the country. Find out what they are for and how cellular towers work.
Cellular Towers / Telephone Antennas
The mobile phone. We use it all the time: to work, to rest, to see, to listen. Gone are the ninety or two thousand, when we needed dozens of different devices to do everything that today only one smartphone can do. But do we know how they work?
Although over the years, the devices have evolved and acquired more features, we must not forget the purpose for which they were born: to make phone calls. For this to be possible, we need a telecommunications infrastructure that we are not normally aware of.
We imagine sophisticated satellites or antennas on high poles tens of meters away bursting into the urban horizon, yet the facilities that allow mobile calls may be on the roof of your own building.
When we make a call, our mobile phone’s antenna communicates with the nearest antenna or base station, which are located, for example, on high buildings in cities. From here, the signal is passed to a switch, which redirects the 0 and 1 coded data packet to other base stations. From these, the one closest to the call recipient is chosen. All this happens in just a few seconds.
Each antenna supports a limited number of calls and has a specific range. Therefore, in cities, where mobile user traffic is much higher than in rural areas, a greater number of antennas are required. The tall buildings that populate cities become the best place to install them. You are probably passing under several of them every day without realizing it.
Installing antennas in neighbourhood communities has become for many a source of income to reduce the costs of the ladder. However, experts warn of the need for an independent technical study to ensure that the building can withstand the weight of the antenna. The association also informs on its website about the rights of the residents and the procedures and care to be taken if an operator is interested in our building.
The antennas and their screens do not normally emit in all directions. Most of them focus on a specific area of limited vertical and horizontal range. Normally, the screens are tilted slightly towards the ground, to cover the area effectively. Antennas populate cities, and movements have emerged that report their possible harmful effects.
Cell Towers, Cancer and other problems
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified non-ionising electromagnetic radiation, produced by mobile phone antennas, as a category 2B carcinogen. This means that a correlation between these emissions and the disease has been identified in animal studies. However, there are no proven real reasons for the alarm. Animal studies could not be performed with real equivalent times, and do not justify the same incidence in humans.
Other voices point out that proximity to telephone antennas would be behind problems of insomnia or headaches. Again, there is no scientific evidence that emissions from telephone antennas are harmful to people’s health. Furthermore, the experts in the sector remind us that exposure to this radiation is very limited due to the very orientation of the antennas: we would have to live near and in front of one in order for its radiation to reach us directly.
For professionals in the sector, the fact that there are more antennas means that the mobile phone antenna, which is the one next to our head, has to make less of an effort to establish the connection. Therefore, and despite what one might think, more antennas can make us receive less direct radiation. This “effort” that our phone’s antenna has to make to establish a connection with distant antennas is especially noticeable in rural areas, and also affects the battery of the terminal.
Antennas or cellular towers are a necessary part of our current telecommunications system. Now you know how they work and where they are. The next time you call on your mobile, don’t forget that it will be thanks to them.
Cell Towers FAQS
What are cell towers connected to?
Towers can be standalone structures, such as steel poles or lattice frame, or affixed to other structures. In the latter category, cell towers are attached to buildings, water towers, bridges, tunnels, street lights, traffic lights, stadium lights, and billboards, among other things.
How far do cell towers transmit?
A typical cellphone has enough power to reach a cell tower up to 45 miles away. Depending on the technology of the cellphone network, the maximum distance may be as low as 22 miles because the signal otherwise takes too long for the highly accurate timing of the cellphone protocol to work reliably.