What is an Antenna Map?

Mary Elizabeth

An antenna is a device for radiating or receiving radio signals. An antenna that transmits signals does so by converting electrical current into electromagnetic radio waves. An antenna that receives signals does so by converting electromagnetic waves back into electric current. An antenna map is an online way of visualizing some kind of data about antennas: it may show the location of either transmitting or receiving antennas or suggest specifications for an antenna to be placed in a specific location, for example. It should not be confused with Antenna® MAP (Antenna® Software’s Mobility Assessment Program), which is a process to assess appropriate wireless solutions for employees in the field.

Some antenna maps are designed to assist people using antennas to enhance TV reception.
Some antenna maps are designed to assist people using antennas to enhance TV reception.

One kind of antenna map is designed to assist consumers who are using antennas to enhance television reception. It works to help consumers identify the best outdoor antenna to use for receiving local television broadcast channels and to understand how to adjust the antenna to tune to the various stations available. By analyzing geography and signals, based on information the consumer provides about his or her home address, impeding structures, and how high the antenna will be above the ground, the online software is able to suggest the antenna type and show the direction of the signal from each relevant station. Separate tools are available for satellite dish antenna mapping.

Cell phone customers can use antenna maps to determine cell phone coverage by different carriers.
Cell phone customers can use antenna maps to determine cell phone coverage by different carriers.

An antenna map can also show towers, antennas, and planned towers to help determine cell phone coverage in a specific area or prospective coverage when the towers are completed. Since the data can be sorted by carrier, a potential cell phone owner can determine prior to purchase which carrier best serves the locations that the customer frequents. It can also show other types of antennas, for example, the antennas in the DORIS network, DORIS being one of the geodetic space techniques, along with GPS, in the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS).

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Cell towers recieve and transmit signals than include information such as dialed phone numbers.
Cell towers recieve and transmit signals than include information such as dialed phone numbers.

Another kind of antenna map is constructed by collecting data about antennas from online visitors to the website in order to display it to others. Visitors are asked to identify three pieces of information: their location, the type of antenna they have, and a rating of their HD (High Definition) reception. The data is typically shown on a map.

Cell phone service providers may have separate maps for data and voice coverage, although the same towers are often used for mounting both types of antennas.
Cell phone service providers may have separate maps for data and voice coverage, although the same towers are often used for mounting both types of antennas.

An antenna map can also serve a research function. For example, in 2003, an antenna map was constructed to show the utilization of the Federal Communications Commission Instructional Television Fixed Service (FCC ITFS) frequency band. The type of antenna maps that show existing towers could also be used for research into such things as tower density, and coverage in specific areas.

An antenna map shows the location of cell towers to help determine coverage.
An antenna map shows the location of cell towers to help determine coverage.

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