Cell Tower Development

How cell tower sites are selected is one the most asked questions by property owners across North America. Cell tower locations are the result of a cell phone carrier working with their internal engineering staff to satisfy specific needs that company has in certain locations throughout the country. The engineering aspect is classified as “Radio Frequency Engineering” or RF Engineering, for short. RF engineers must act in concert with its company’s site development and construction staff to optimize any cell tower site development and related construction projects it may have scheduled.

A cell tower company has a purpose in mind for each cell tower previously built and that will be built in the future. A vast majority of times, a tower development project is for the purpose of either meeting the present needs of its cell phone customers, or to help increase those same customers’ (as well as future customers) usage of their cell phone, internet and other wireless services. So, how does the construction of a new cell tower improve a wireless carrier’s customers’ services?

The following are some of the ways that a wireless customer is enriched:

  • Signal Strength/Coverage: Cell towers are built to eliminate those locations where that cell phone company’s services are lacking, also known as the hated “Dead Spot”. RF Engineers determine where there are high rates of service interruption due to either interference or cell phone signal issues, and a new cell tower will be selected and developed to eliminate those dead areas.
  • Data Usage Capacity: With cell phones being used for an increasing amount of purposes, i.e. phone calls, text messaging, data transfer, internet research, etc., and with other devices like laptops, tablets and even televisions now using wireless signals, new cell tower locations are being constructed is to meet these growing data usage needs and requirements.
  • Call Clarity & Network Speed:  The telecom industry is a complex industry, but, like most industries, it relies upon getting new customers and satisfying the needs of its existing customers. If a cell phone carrier’s customers can’t make calls or retrieve data, it will not be in business very long. So, cell towers must be constructed to make sure the customers’ needs are met.

So What Types of Properties Are Selected?


Commercial buildings, municipal structures and other suitable facilities with either flat rooftops or other suitable available areas, that are located in urban and industrial areas, are sites that wireless carriers target.  These structures/facilities are usually at a minimum of forty (40) feet in height, and with certain areas available that are suitable and meet both set-back and structural load criteria. If a property owner has available rooftop space or other available similar space, such space must not only meet the cell phone carrier’s requirements, but any local municipalities’ zoning and permitting requirements as well. As referenced above, these requirements may include how much equipment may be located on a rooftop, height restrictions and even set-back requirements.

Ground Space:

Cell phone carriers must meet needs as it relates to the ground space requirements for the selection, development and construction of new towers. The primary focus of wireless providers and tower companies is the leasing of ground space in both urban and rural areas. So, why is the development still occurring? The answer: Development and continued construction of towers today is mostly due to the increasing capacity demands, as mentioned above. Cell phone carriers are generally looking for locations that have at least 1,500 square feet of ground space.

Cell phone carriers are always reviewing areas to make sure they are meeting the needs of their customers. As these needs are determined, and the cell phone carriers have the capital budgets needed to satisfy these cell tower build-out requirements in order to build, these facilities will be constructed. Cell phones, wireless hand-held devices, and other devices dependent upon a wireless signal are not going to disappear, as they are more and more becoming not only the most important communication device a person has, but also quickly becoming that same person’s most important source of data transfer and internet research.

If you have been presented with an opportunity by a cell phone carrier or tower company to lease either rooftop or ground space, we invite you to contact Vertical Consultants to discuss this opportunity and how you can optimize it.

If you are a property owner looking to maximize your chances of getting a cell tower or rooftop equipment, we ask you to contact our sister company, Vertical Developments, which works with property owners to get revenue-producing cell phone equipment on their properties.