What Cellular Towers Does Net10 Use?
By David Sarokin
Updated September 26, 2017
Every cell phone call you make is supported by a network of millions of mobile phone towers and antennas across the country. Some companies spend billions of dollars building and maintaining these networks to create the infrastructure that makes mobile phone service possible. Net10 hasn't spent a cent. Instead, Net10 enters into licenses with other cell phone companies to make use of their networks. That is, Net10 rents the towers and antennas of other service providers. You can use several online resources to identify the companies that Net10 works with and to locate the cellular towers used by those companies.
Net10's Corporate Identity
Net10 is not a wireless phone company. It is the brand name of a service offered by Tracfone Wireless Inc., which also provides other cell phone service plans under brand names including SafeLink and Straight Talk. Tracfone Wireless itself is not an independent company. It is a subsidiary of a multinational communications corporation, America Movil, based in Mexico. Tracfone is the entity that creates contracts with other cell phone networks in the United States, including the contracts providing the infrastructure for Net10's wireless service.
Net10's Network Arrangements
Tracfone Wireless is a mobile virtual network operator. An MVNO is a company that does not own its own mobile transmission network and licenses networks from other providers. According to MVNO Dynamics, an online service that tracks and reports on the business arrangements between cell phone companies, Net 10 uses the mobile phone networks of Sprint Nextel, AT&T and Verizon Wireless. These arrangements include the use of cell phone towers and antennas.
Towers and Antennas
Although sometimes used interchangeably in casual conversation, there is a distinct difference between a cell phone tower and a cell phone antenna. An antenna is the actual electronic communication device for transmitting and receiving cellular phone signals. A tower is a structure for mounting one or more antennas in a fixed location. The tower itself is not an electronic communications device. The Federal Communications Commission exercises regulatory oversight of many towers and antennas. The FCC's Antenna Structure Registration database includes location and ownership details for the structures subject to FCC regulation.
Net10's Local Towers and Antennas
You can use online look-up services to identify cellular towers in your city or in any area you choose. Towers and antennas used by Sprint Nextel, AT&T or Verizon Wireless are also available for use by Net10's wireless service. The lists can be large, since there are millions of structures in use for cell phone service. For example, a search of a Washington D.C. neighborhood listed 63 towers and 762 antennas in a three-mile radius, many of which were owned by one of the three companies that comprise Net10's licensed network.
David Sarokin is a well-known Internet specialist with publications in a wide variety of topics, especially the impact of information technology on business and everyday life. He is the author of Missed Information (MIT Press, 2016), detailing how our social systems like health care, finance and government can be improved with better quality information.