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 OpenStreetMaps for offline maps, so a plugin for OSM 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?

asked 12 Jun, 16:32

maltfield's gravatar image

maltfield
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accept rate: 0%


Hi.

I don't know of any. You can explore the osm data, through the tag communication:mobile_phone, via overpass turbo, for example, you can check out the mapped cell towers of a given region. Around my place (in France), mapping is pretty erratic, various tagging schemes, places left out, not so useful I'm afraid.

Mainly there is not documented way of specifying the mobile provider. Taginfo says that quite a lot use the operator key, but not consistently. I guess the best data for automatic matching would be MCC and MNC, but it's only on 10.000 places, worldwide... And again, it is not a documented practice.

Some king of matching between OpenCellID and OSM would be nice, and I guess have already been discussed, but it would be a lot of work, and nobody is on it AFAIK.

As for access on a mobile phone, I assume you're talking about OsmAnd, as OpenStreetMap is not an app. In OsmAnd you can search for tower:type=communication and display them on the map, which is a start, but not so useful in your case I'm afraid.

As a kind of workaround, you can probably download OpenCellID data, convert it to gpx (or kml if you want coloring by provider for example), and import that into OsmAnd. Maybe filter only those for your provider and crop to the region you need, to keep OsmAnd running smoothly. Then you can display the points on your map, search for them...

Best regards.

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answered 17 Jul, 13:55

H_mlet's gravatar image

H_mlet
4.7k1573
accept rate: 13%

I guess the best data for automatic matching would be MCC and MNC

The challenge with MCC/MNC is that one tower (and one operator) will match lots of MCC/MNC combinations - both brands (including former brands) belonging to one carrier and MVNOs using that carrier.

Also in the UK at least sharing towers between networks is a thing, and there are also third-party operators to further complicate matters.

(17 Jul, 14:17) SomeoneElse ♦

I think that it's possible to record the various codes used when the phone is connected to some network, and then search for them in the surrounding or distant towers.

For the few nodes I've checked, MNC are usually semi-colon separated lists of codes, so it's not impossible to parse. MCC is always the same. Main trouble is the lack of data for now...

operator value are more free style concatenation of operators names (only 4 in France, all the others are virtual, and usually attached to only one of the 4, but I don't think this applies elsewhere).

(17 Jul, 18:22) H_mlet
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question asked: 12 Jun, 16:32

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