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How to identify a 4G tower?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by dietermoreno, Jul 29, 2013.

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  1. dietermoreno

    dietermoreno

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    Dec 30, 2012
    How to identify a 4G tower?

    I see many new towers going up around me, and I am wondering which ones are 4G.

    Somewhere I found on the internet I found that you can tell the 4G tower by it has satelitte dishes on top instead of the normal cell phone tower antenna which I found somewhere on the internet that the normal cell phone tower antenna is a 2x12 array of UHF dipoles covered by a white or grey plastic covering and there are usually four 2x12's for every cell.

    but then I found also on the internet that you can build your own 4G antenna for $10 out of coat hangers and electrical conduit (not including the feedlines which probably cost alot more than building the antenna), and it says that the coat hangers are cut to UHF!

    but if the 4G transmissions use UHF, why would they use a sattelite dish, which a sattelite dish is for microwaves like the K-band?

    or it could be that the "DIY 4G antenna" is actually a misunderstanding of a 3G EVO antenna?

    or it could be that the "sattelite dish cell tower 4G antenna" is actually a misunderstanding of a sattelite dish used for something else?

    The internet is full of misunderstandings about everything?
     
  2. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    Sep 5, 2009
    the dish antennas you will find on most towers, as they are the microwave links to the other towers in the network

    4G antennas are much the same as any of the other modes 3G, CDMA etc etc the difference isn't in the freq so much as in the way the data is transmitted and received

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2013
  3. dietermoreno

    dietermoreno

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    Dec 30, 2012
    Why would a microwave link via orbital sattelite be used when wouldn't it be much slower than a land line connection for internet protocol access, and I've read on the internet that 4G only uses the internet protocol and doesn't use a separate network like all previous generations did?
     
  4. JMW

    JMW

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    Jan 30, 2012
    T1 phone lines are expensive. Microwave, far more reliable and less expensive
     
  5. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    25,496
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    Jan 21, 2010
    Microwave dishes can be identified easily because that are pointed almost exactly toward the horizon.

    Satellite dishes point above the horizon (usually significantly above it). (as an aside, some satellite antennas are only a partial dish and appear to be pointing far lower than they really are).

    I'm surprised that any 4G tower (aside from something that is extremely isolated) would have a satellite dish)
     
  6. dietermoreno

    dietermoreno

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    Dec 30, 2012
    Lol, that was going to be my next question, why the "satellite dishes" on the towers aren't even pointed up at the sky into outer space and are actually pointed toward the horizon.

    Well that makes sense that microwave links between towers would be terrestrial because there would be too much latency using orbital sattelites, and certainly its cheaper than fiber optic cable and faster than telephone cable.





    So I guess there is no way to answer my original question, other than climbing to the top of the tower and getting out a tape measure to measure the length of each element of the antenna underneath the white plastic covering, and then I could calculate the resonant frequency and make a guess what cell band the element is for.

    Unfortunately, I have no desire to climb to the top of a tower any time soon.

    So I guess for the average person there is no way to know, other than buying a 4G enabled device and see how fast the connection speed is and take a guess at if it is fast enough to be considered 4G.

    If my Clear Wireless wireless internet connection that my home internet uses with 4 bars of service when I go to speedtest.net on my laptop and it says my download speed is 14 mbps, is that fast enough to be considered 4G, or would that be 3G EDO (Data Optimized) revision c?
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2013
  7. davenn

    davenn Moderator

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    Sep 5, 2009
    and climbing the tower and measuring the length of the antenna enclosure wouldnt tell you anything anyway. as there are multiple antennas inside a single enclosure !!

    Dave
     
  8. Solidus

    Solidus

    349
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    Jun 19, 2011
    Yes, and if you climbed that tower you may find yourself frying from the power of those antennas.

    As Dave said, the 4G standard isn't necessarily a frequency but a transmission standard. To determine if the tower was of the proper type you could hazard a guess with a frequency allocation table and a spectrum meter; but to make a more educated determination you would have to be well-versed in the 4G transmission protocol and design hardware to serve as a test for that.

    On the other hand, I believe (extra emphasis there) that the FCC runs a publicly-accessible database of the RF towers, so determination would simply be knowing the location / coordinates of the tower in question.

    As for the DIY antenna notion, why build it if the data is plentiful? Are you trying to create your own 4G supply? That requires hardware at the protocol (see above) as well as amplifiers capable of working near the microwave spectrum.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  9. JMW

    JMW

    90
    3
    Jan 30, 2012
    The microwave dishes are independent of the cell phone frequencies. Nextel/Sprint operates around 2 GHz, The microwave is at a considerably higher frequency IIRC starting at 6 GHz. Much actual cellphone usage is in the 800 to 900 MHz spectrum (USA)
     
  10. riskinhos

    riskinhos

    3
    0
    Aug 2, 2013
    easy, use a 4G cell phone with an app to measure the 4G signal. if you approach the tower and the signal increases then you have a 4G antenna.
    I actually have tested this with 3G.
     
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