Mapping Cell Towers

Are there any useful apps for displaying Cell Towers (eg OpenCelliD) on a map with OSM data?

Scenario: I’m driving through the desert, and I suddenly have to join a video conference. I notice that I have no cellular data, and I’m at a 4-way cross roads: each going North, South, East, and West.

I’m looking for an app that has all this data offline and will show me [a] my location and [b] all the nearby cell towers. Ideally, it should tell me if the cell tower will work with my specific mobile provider’s SIM card.

I already use OsmAnd for offline maps, so a plugin for OsmAnd would be ideal.

Is there a way to get an offline map of the cell towers near my current location, so I know where to go for the best possible signal and least possible packet loss?

Note: This post is copied from the corresponding post on

Hi @maltfield, It is not in my nature nor in the nature of OSM as a whole (I say) to be discouraging. However, I and others in this forum who have spoken with others who wish to associate cellular tower data of a high degree of predictability as to signal strength, obtainability or other quality metrics based upon purely geographic data are chasing a fool’s errand. These data are so stochastic, rapidly-changing, dependent on atmospherics (e.g rain attenuation) and so much else that is dramatically dynamic that many feel a reasonably static-and-growing database like OSM is a poor match to expect any performance out of such a presumed-possible task.

If you can parse those last two sentences, I thank you for your patience.

Go ahead and map cell towers; people do that, hooray for good data entering our map. It shouldn’t be hard to make OverpassTurbo (OT) queries of the data you’d like displayed, extracted, or whatever you’d like to further do with them.

The sort of “app” you seem to want to build might be your quest, but it isn’t a magic trick: like many things in OSM, you must ask the right questions and be specific about what data you want to “see” (or use) and perhaps how you intend to use them. Your [b] displaying towers isn’t hard. Your [b] “will it work with my mobile provider’s SIM card?” sounds like you want to write an app to do that, but haven’t really thought it through. (Earlier topics about this, I believe here, but I don’t have ready links, came to similar “such tower-SIM predictability is a dead-end” conclusions). And, data like these quickly go stale, even with regards to (e.g. FCC) licensing.

There are apps that display cell towers, really, dozens of them for both Android and IOS. I don’t know of any that offer OSM as a “base layer,” but those are only for the several I’ve seen, it’s possible there are some out there. But these are usually things like “carrier specific” or “frequency specific” or have UI that might let you drive through such feature-flipping. I find the several I’ve seen somewhat purpose-driven rather than generic and agnostic (as to carrier, technology, frequency…), which would be a better mesh for OSM (Open being our first name). Still, it sounds like you are trying to mash something together to see it your own way, and OSM could help, so I remain listening.

If anybody knows of such apps, yes, we’d love to hear of them. Personally, I wouldn’t find them especially useful (whether they have “OSM as a background,” maybe you mean Carto displayed, maybe you don’t), though it sounds like you might. Perhaps for a next phase of some visualization you seem to be doing. (Data extraction, maybe start with OT, then projection/display?)

Thanks for brainstorming with us here; looking forward to any further replies!

Edit: In the USA, if you married a full-scale scrape of FCC license databases for the last couple decades of tech and spectrum license changes (a huge and clunky undertaking) to an AI that cleverly knows DEM data of mountaintops and towers lat-longs, well, you might have something. That is no small task. It’s a neat dream and suffers greatly from highly stochastic real-world atmospherics and such, but it’s a job for a medium-sized AI over weeks or months or so, in my opinion.

CellMapper is likely the closest option to address your needs. While its data isn’t open source and the app doesn’t offer an offline mode, it does utilize an OSM implementation and data should be reasonably accurate and up-to-date.

IMO, incorporating and maintaining MNO carrier info in OSM itself would be a monumental task.

For OsmAnd offline map specifically, you can go into hamburger menu, select Configure map, click on ... on POI overlay... entry, click Search, type in communication tower and select SHOW ON MAP below it. That will show all mapped communication towers on OsmAnd map as orange circles (with tower picture inside them).

(or you can of course select nearest tower instead and click Navigation button to navigate you directly there)

As how well are man_made=communications_tower, tower:type=communication and their ilk mapped on OSM, depends on the region (only some 16% or so have operator mapped, though).

You can always map additional ones (even using OsmAnd’s OpenStreetMap editing plugin; although apps like Every Door or SCEE might be more ergonomic, or Vespucci might give you more power instead if you prefer that)