We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Signal Tower?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A signal tower is a device that can receive and remit signal information for many different purposes. Signal towers are an ancient communications device, dating back to the use of fire or smoke as a means of passing a message. Today, signal towers are used in nearly all forms of communication, from radio and TV transmission towers to cellular phone signal towers.

Early signal towers were understandably low-technology means of communication. The Great Wall of China had a network of high towers where news of attacks or raids could be passed down the wall by means of lighting a signal fire. During the Roman occupation of Britannia around the second century, heavily fortified signal towers were incorporated into the construction of Hadrian's Wall. Early lighthouses were signal towers for ships at sea, using a light angled through a refracting mirror to alert skippers of approaching land, reef, or rocks. These early forms of signal tower are often referred to as optical telegraph towers.

Railroads have also long used signal towers to alert drivers about changes or problems on the rails ahead. Acting as a sort of railroad traffic device, these towers are elevated to be at a highly visible location for oncoming trains. Older railroad signal towers had human operators that would use flag semaphores to pass information to locomotives. Today, most railroad signal towers are automated and use a traffic light system.

With the development of radio wave technology came the invention of the radio signal tower, a high, lightweight structure that has antennas to receive and transmit radio signals. The great signal towers of the 20th century, radio towers reach dizzying heights and are instrumental in the transmission of radio signals, including television signals. The tallest radio signal tower in the world is the KVLY TV Mast in North Dakota, which reaches 2063 ft (628.8 m).

Cellular signal towers are modified radio towers that create cell phone networks. Many cell towers are actually mounted on skyscrapers to give them additional range. Common features of a cell tower include antennas, signal transmitters, and global-positioning devices. With extensive upgrades to cell phone technology placing more demands on transmission capabilities, many old towers are being torn down and replaced by new models that offer better range and higher power.

Signal towers, while infinitely useful, can still be plagued by a variety of problems. The towers, while enormous, are often built from lightweight material out of necessity, leaving the tower vulnerable to high winds and collapse. In densely populated areas, finding places for new signal towers may be difficult, causing a reduction in transmission range and power. Areas with complicated topography may also create signal tower issues, as the tower may not be high enough to avoid running into natural signal blocks, such as mountains.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for About Mechanics. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Learn more
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.