What is the correct way to tag an antenna?

Photo for clarification.

In engineering we call this a “mast”, but laypeople call it an “antenna”. In engineering, “antenna” is each of the elements that radiates electromagnetic energy, mounted on the mast.

I have seen man_made=antenna and man_made=tower, tower:type=communication for the same thing.

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OSM is more or less following the engineering definitions you’ve cited. The wiki page about man_made=antenna is most unhelpful, telling us everything about antennae and some related tags but not what the man_made=antenna tag should be used for. It seems like it’s trying to avoid some kind of controversy, but it’s a mystery to me.

In your example, a first pass would be to map the overall structure as a man_made=mast node. Some mappers instead micromap the mast as an area and add a man_made=antenna node inside. I follow this approach when there are multiple antennas on the mast, each with different notable characteristics. For example, a single mast may have antennas for various TV and radio stations, plus communications antennas, all at different heights. A similar enclosed structure would be a man_made=tower, but tower:type is used with man_made=mast too.

In the U.S., individual broadcast antennas were imported from GNIS as man_made=tower nodes, then later retagged as man_made=mast. Whenever the antennas are on the same mast, the nodes are coincident. This tagging violates the “One feature, one element” principle, so I remap them as antenna nodes within a mast area.

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This is what you get following the JOSM preset. Questions arise if the tower is mapped separately as area, who’s to get the height and is the height referring to the placement of the actual antenna or the total height of the mast that’s carrying the antenna?


Quite a few here have double/triple function, GSM micro, tv can all be on the same mast, and silly, instead of the competition sharing masts they build several just 10-15 meters apart. Think to remember that in certain countries the sharing is dictated… this forest of masts in the country is plain ugly, Then who is the operator? But that’s /OT.