Talk:Proposed features/Communications tower

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I support this feature, because I consider communication towers as a prominent landmark. Therefore they can be found on detailed maps here in Germany. But I recommend changing the value from communications_tower to antenna. Communications_tower wouldn't be appropiate for a television or broadcasting antenna. Antenna would also be shorter and could include large satellite dishes (in uplink stations) as well. Furthermore I would define a set of values for the name-key specifying the type of antenna like (cellphone,broadcast,radio,satellite,intelligence,radar). (Alternatively these could be used in a key like communications or even antenna itself.)

What I have in mind ist, that some of these can help your orientation in the countryside and other might be invisible, like cellphone-antennas. But wouldn't it be cool when driving through a rural area to look up where you might be able to use your cellphone again? --Fröstel 03:04, 24 September 2007 (BST)

I support the idea, but I would prefer man_made/mast. It is short and sweet and sums up the prominent feature: the mast itself, rather than the dish or antenna or whatever. It is generic enough to suit phone mast, uplink, relay, broadcast transmitter etc. Special masts have names such as Belmont or Holme Moss TV transmitters. User:chillly 18:44, 13 October 2007

I would like to see this proposal. I would suggest that there should be a height = x m tag for the exact height, but also a size = short|medium|tall tag for approximate height. It might not always be possible to get the exact height in metres of a mast, but the mapper will know its rough size. There are two towers near me, which can be seen for over 15Km, I dont know their exact height, but would like to tag them as size = tall, so that they could be rendered at lower zoom levels as they are a prominent landmark feature. Shorter towers would not need rendering at these zoom levels, if they need rendering at all. Dmgroom 00:49, 17 October 2007 (BST)

  • Thinking about this a while I had an idea which could take of. Each GSM/UMTS-antenna has an unique ID to identify itself. This ID can be received by every cellphone. If OSM manages to capture the position and ID of a fair amount of antennas it would be possible to do rough navigation with a plain cell phone (without GPS-capability). At least it would be accurate enough for a map-application to show the right area. This would of course be a lot of data to capture, but isn't it always with OSM? In Germany e.g. there's a federal database with all radio emitters (like GSM-Antennas), which could perhaps be imported. What do you think? -- Fröstel 21:21, 19 October 2007 (BST)
    • this is now built into google maps for mobiles, it gives an indication of your location, close to 200m if i recall correctlyMyfanwy 02:46, 3 January 2008 (UTC)
    • _ALL_ transmitters are supposed to have a call sign, this could be used as the 'ref=' tag. 'operator=' could be for the company/associatation that maintains the transmitter and 'name=' for the local name of the transmitter. --Mungewell 22:06, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
      • Hello, I also propose to add Ham-Radio Repeaters and Digipeters (also Echolink-Gateways etc...) to OSM which _of course_ have their unique Callsign. Additional Tags could be Locator, Uplink-Downlink, Tonesquelch, Operator etc. --DB1BMN 11:45, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

I checked out the federal database from Bundesnetzagentur (link in chapter above). It is just good to find out the proximate high of a tower as it gives the high of the lowest installed antenna. In provided map (no list available) you will find also other radio transmitters than GSM/UMTS or antennas mounted 16m high closed to the top of a building's roof. Near to me I found no entry for an antenna tower even it exists for tens of years now. In OSM I would render antenna towers as visual marker buildings of the scenery. GSM/UMTS antennas are hidden sometimes and transmitters should be rendered as POIs. The tag of an antenna tower should be separated from it's actual use for GSM/UMTS or broadcasting which should be an additional tag. If you're looking for more information on GSM/UMTS locations check out one of the GSM/UMTS transmitter listing community at This community provides transmitter listings with coordinates and other useful information. Possibly this community can be requested to add their information into OSM. -- vanagaudi 20:56 01 November 2007 (BST)

  • There is already a "man_made=mast" apparently used quite widely, which I imagine is the same thing. JOSM recognises it an adds an icon, but neither map renders it to date. Generally I don't care what tags are called, within reason, but in this case if there are significant numbers already in use, it might be better to go with the flow. David.earl 19:43, 2 December 2007 (UTC)
    • I'd go with man_made=mast then Chillly 11:30, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
      • perhaps a silly question : is the "man_made=mast" already documented in any wiki page (Map features or Proposed features") excepted here ? And if not, who is doing this ? Pieren 12:37, 3 December 2007 (UTC)
        • Anyone can tag any node or way with any tag - this is the open streetmap :-) The fact that it is already being used is a good clue to its popularity which is why it's a no-brainer to me Chillly 17:01, 4 December 2007 (UTC)
      • I also prefer man_made=mast (and to distinguish between the types mast=radio, mast=cellphone, ...) --Miskellaneous 00:33, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
        • I would countenance Miskellaneous, because you often don't know exactle what communication type a antenna is for (at least I don't know :). Sometimes there are some Viewpoint towers also have communication antennas built-on so you could add the mast=gsm tag also. studerap 22:43, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
        • I also favour something like mast=gsm;etc. But why call it mast= if we want to describe the antenna? In my opinion antenna=gsm;umts;dvb-t would be far more logical. Such a tag could also be applied to churchtowers, wind turbines, large buildings and alike, where mast= would be rather confusing.-- Fröstel 12:23, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
          • I'd also like to have antenna=wlan. We should also think about of attributes for essid, ssid, channel for wlan and cell_id for gsm/umts. And we should forget to add orientation of antenna if it is a beam antenna (de:Richtantenne) and maybe also vertical or horizontal polarisation ;-) --Saerdnaer 17:23, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
      • I think the plain use of 'man_made=mast' is a little ambigulous, prehaps 'man_made=communications_mast'. I also would prefer to see it broken into more catagories. 'communication_mast' a metal latice or pole (wooden included?) that you can't get inside, 'communications_tower' a stucture with internal access (BT tower London, Emly Moore), 'communication_dish' (Jodrail bank) and 'communication_dome' (Menworth Hill). --Mungewell 21:56, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
      • As to usage you can add 'AM', 'FM' and 'HAM' to list. You should also remember that antenna masts are often multi-occupied, carrying more than one transmitter. --Mungewell 21:56, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Could there also be a close way representing the coverage area of the broadcast, or a linear way to represent a point-2-point link? --Mungewell 22:12, 27 March 2008 (UTC)
  • Not sure how to indicate cross band repeaters, may be this is not required and should be indicated by 2 seperate transponders. --Mungewell 17:35, 3 April 2008 (BST)
  • +1 for either man_made=antenna (preferred) or man_made=mast. I'm not that fussed about the details: just specify that the antenna[:...]=* namespace (or mast[:...]=*) is open for the experts to define, and leave it at that. --achadwick 21:07, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Communications towers/antennas/masts are important for aviation maps and flight simulator visualization - I support this, whatever the final tag names turn into. Can we refine the rules for uniquely identifying antennas? In particular, there may be a unique ID scheme for a subset of all world antennas, provided by the appropriate regulatory agencies - in fact, there could be multiple unique IDs. (Example - I suspect the FAA and FCC separately track antennas in the US...the former as a hazard to airplanes, the later for broadcast regulations.) Since communications towers are often tracked in bulk by government data, it would be useful to have a schema that would make bulk import/update of data practical. --Bsupnik 15:44, 30 October 2008 (UTC)

Marking cellular or wlan network cells/antennas for positioning use

The above discussion seems to handle mostly the aspect of marking antennas or networks as landmarks, though Fröstel, Vanagaudi and Saerdnaer did mention tags for describing the radio properties of the antenna and google maps use of cell ids for positioning.

I read somewhere that the info is gathered by Google in the way of getting cell id info from people who do use GPS. This method could also be used to help build OSM.

I think that something along the lines of what [User:Fröstel|Fröstel]] and Saerdnaer proposed would be the way to code antenna info - antenna=gsm;umts;dvb-t and attributes for essid, ssid, channel for wlan, frequency/channel for FM/AM radio, DVB-T etc. I think also some kind of attribute for a non-located antenna would be useful - maybe something like location=approximate and source=radiowaves or source=radiocoverage to indicate that the location of the antenna is not confirmed by visually or otherwise locating the antenna but rather by the presence of radiowaves originating from the antenna. Maybe also signalstrength=low etc. to help pinpointing locations of the antennas.

It seems someone has written and published code [1] to use google's API to look up location based on google's cell id database, but there might be legal problems in using that. In any case, of course google's the data is not really free or open in the way OSM data is, so I think it'd be reasonable to do it the OSM way. Free software is available for data gathering [2] so data should not be very hard to get.

--Jkp 21:56, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

A couple of relevant pointers: OSM_Mobile_Binary_Protocol/Types with stuff like "GSM Cell location request" and "GSM Cell upload v2", [Proposed_features/Communications_Transponder] with some proposed tags (though not currently for GSM/umts) --Jkp 23:08, 10 May 2008 (UTC) indicates how google apps structure their lookups. --Mungewell 16:10, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

proposed tags

I support the idea of this proposal, but have some annotations to the particular proposed tags: it should be antenna instead of tower, or use directly man_made=tower plus a sub-tag.

  • the height-tag is ambigous: does it comprise the height of the antenna or just the structure? This is a differentiation usually made.
  • instead of website it could be addr:url or addr:web or addr:internet
  • the sub-tags communications_tower:type are not clear: lattice is a construction-type that could be of wood, concrete or (mostly) steel, in wood you are implying a wooden pole but a pole could be made of concrete or steel as well, so I suggest to differentiate material and construction type:[br]

material: wood, steel, concrete, polycarbon, etc. [br] construction type:lattice, pole, dish

  • the dome is a secondary structure around the antenna(s), so I think it merits a tag apart.

-- Dieterdreist 12:13, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

The use of 'antenna' word is confusing. Often a tower will have many antenna mounted on it, serving different purposes/frequencies. Hence the abstraction of a 'tower' + a number of 'transponders'. In the case of a dome/dish, each 'antenna' would be characterised as a seperate transponder. --Mungewell 16:36, 2 July 2009 (UTC)
I'll reword description for height/ele to mean the highest point of the structure including any antenna's (ie. what the aerial clearance would be). --Mungewell 16:36, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

Erm shouldn't this just be another man_made=tower, towertype=communications_tower ? Delta foxtrot2 01:28, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Is that a valid tag, the page seems very vague and references the same transponder example I used (so must have been copied after the initial draft of this page). If 'towertype' were adequately described I would be happy to use 'manmade=tower'. --Mungewell 17:25, 7 July 2009 (UTC)
OK, with some further digging around this would make sense. However the 'man_made=tower' tag is ill-defined and needs to be sorted. At present it is not rendered at all by any of the renderers (for example, but is listed in JOSM. Does it make sense to transfer the tags I am suggesting for 'man_made=communications_tower' directly over and leave scope for further tag expansion to 'towertype=observation|communications|etc'. --Mungewell 01:11, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
The tags you came up with seem to be common for a lot of tower types, although more generic sub-types might be more useful in general... Delta foxtrot2 13:38, 8 July 2009 (UTC)
Also, even though most information is most likely to be on a website, 'URL' is more generic and can include FTP etc. Delta foxtrot2 13:44, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Name suggestion

  • I would change the designation for all towers, which carry antennas or serve directly as antenna

to transmission tower and give them a tower-like icon

  • Dishlike antennas and radoms should be marked with an other icon as they appear other. Name should be "Parabolic antenna"

Cell Towers

This proposal is fine for towers as landmarks. For cell towers there may be an owners reference number (a physical site id, posted on the tower). But beyond that it gets pretty complex. A given tower may host 1-4 companies, each with 3-36 sectors on multiple bands. Worse, that may shift often. I'd limit the mapping to the physical site, and at best link to a specialized cell database (OpenSignal, OpenCellID, CellMapper). Brycenesbitt (talk)