Cell sites are areas where antennas and electronic communications devices are located to create a cell in a mobile network (cellular network). Cell sites are typically set up on land that is not owned by either tower companies or wireless providers.
Tower businesses and providers gain access to property through a lease or license with a property owner.
Many cell site antennas are mounted on structures instead of on towers. Some towers are hidden in synthetic trees, preserved trees, or structures that resemble sculptures; they are described as hidden sites or stealth sites. Lots of cell sites are on rooftops, and many of these are stealth in type. Sometimes antennas are located in church steeples and mock chimneys.
A site hosting a single telephone company might house many base stations; each to serve a different air interface technology. A site is composed of a tower or other elevated structure for installing antennas and one or more sets of transmitter/receivers transceivers, digital signal processors, control electronic devices, a GPS receiver for timing, regular and backup electrical source of power, and shelter. Cell towers always set aside part of their available bandwidth for emergency calls.
Cell sites are organized in areas of high population concentration, with the most possible users. There is a fixed number of calls that can be managed at the same time. This restriction is another element influencing the spacing of tower sites. In low-density areas towers are normally spaced 1-2 miles apart; within dense cities they may be just 1/4 to 1/2 mile apart. Each tower overlaps other cell sites.
When phones are moving from place to place, they also need to change from site to site. Cell tower sites are connecteded to phone exchange switches, which connect to the telephone network or another switch of the cellular business.
For property owners, sites can add substantial value to their property, and sometimes the site deserves more than the property itself. In the last few years, a large number of companies have formed with the singular purpose of obtaining these leases from property owners. These buyout businesses provide huge payments to the homeowner for both roof and tower sites. This can be a practical option for site owners that wish to cash out their leases.