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Private Line covers what has occurred, is occurring, and will ocurr in telecommunications. Since communication technology constantly changes, you can expect new content posted regularly.

Consider this site an authoritative resource. Its moderators have successful careers in the telecommunications industry. Utilize the content and send comments. As a site about communicating, conversation is encouraged.


Thomas Farely

Tom has produced since 1995. He is now a freelance technology writer who contributes regularly to the site.

His knowledge of telecommunications has served, most notably, the American Heritage Invention and Technology Magazine and The History Channel.
His interview on Alexander Graham Bell will air on the History Channel the end of 2006.

Ken Schmidt

Ken is a licensed attorney who has worked in the tower industry for seven years. He has managed the development of broadcast towers nationwide and developed and built cell towers.

He has been quoted in newspapers and magazines on issues regarding cell towers and has spoke at industry and non-industry conferences on cell tower related issues.

He is recognized as an expert on cell tower leases and due diligence processes for tower acquisitions.

« The telephone as a television? | | Congratulations Don Kimberlin! »

April 14, 2005

Posted by Tom Farley & Mark van der Hoek at 11:25 PM

Cell Tower Functionality

Q: What is the maximum distance a pair of cell towers (cell sites) can be separated and still function? Obviously there is some overlap of coverage, but what is the maximum, and maybe minimum, too. Assuming flat terrain?

A. From Mark van der Hoek (internal link):

Too many variables! :D

At the limits? I know of analog calls being made several hundred miles away from the serving cell site. I've personally made analog calls 50 miles away from the site. Digital won't go that far because of timing issues. For CDMA, the practical limit seems to be around 30 miles or so and that only under ideal conditions. 20 is no problem, but rarely done. I've seen it in rural south Texas, west of McAllen in the Rio Grande Valley.

GSM has a hard stop by design at 35 km (22miles), but that can be doubled with some special equipment and software. The price you pay is that you cut in half the available time slots. Some years ago Nortel was trying to make GSM go 200km (124 miles) for an Australian operator, but that effort seems to have faded into obscurity.

Minimum? I know of sites running an eighth of a mile apart. If you count in-building systems, less than that.

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