A cell-phone tower is typically a steel pole or lattice structure that rises hundreds of feet into the air. This cell-phone tower along I-85 near Greenville, SC, is typical in the United States:
This is a modern tower with three different cell-phone providers riding on the same structure. If you look at the base of the tower, you can see that each provider has its own equipment, and you can also see how little equipment is involved today (older towers often have small buildings at the base):
Here is the equipment owned by one of the providers:
The box houses the radio transmitters and receivers that let the tower communicate with the phones. The radios connect with the antennae on the tower through a set of thick cables:
If you look closely, you will see that the tower and all of the cables and equipment at the base of the tower are heavily grounded. For example, the plate in this shot with the green wires bolting onto it is a solid copper grounding plate:
One sure sign that multiple providers share this tower is the amazing five-way latch on the gate. Any one of five people can unlock this gate to get in!
Cell-phone towers come in all shapes and sizes, but I do believe this one in Morrisville, NC, is one of the weirdest looking!
That is one tall, ugly tree!
Check out the links on the next page and How Buying a Cell Phone Works for lots more information and consumer tips!