Nearby cell tower/ cell provider scanning for signal strength?

  • Hi all, I'm wondering if it's possible to scan for nearby cell tower signals and their strength, so that I can choose an existing cell provider to purchase a SIM card that's available at my location?

    I tried to use an existing SIM card from a local provider using AT commands ('AT+CSQ') but it only allows me to look at the signal strength of that particular provider, and ('AT+COPN') returns the list of all operator names. Unfortunately, the SIM card I am using is unreliable, and looking for the location for cell towers is unavailable online for my location.

    I'm looking for something that could list the cell providers available and their respective signal strengths using the fipy, if possible. Any hints or direction would be greatly appreciated!

  • @securigy Ah I see, I'll try to get my hands on a global SIM for my setup and do some testing using the AT commands, much appreciated!

  • As I mentioned - I did not try to scan the LTE-M networks. You should take a look at some AT commands maybe they provide this kind of functionality...
    BTW, when instantiating LTE (look at documentation) you can define what provider you are targeting, although I am not sure whether it really works as I read on this forum about some problems with it. People's recommendation is to let FiPy firmware to pick it up by itself...

  • @securigy Thanks for the recommendation! Is the provider selection completely automatic, or do you think I'd be able to see a list of available providers and manually set one using the AT commands?

    I am thinking that it would be easier to work with a local telco for a CAT-M1 solution in the long run, given that my location would not change that much, and using a global SIM might be overkill. My issue lies in trying to find out which provider or cell tower gives me the best signal strength without having to subscribe to each SIM card to test, and a global SIM card might make this testing possible.

    However are you aware of any solutions without the use of a SIM card, using the fipy? I was initially thinking the monarch LR5.1.1.0 module might have cell network scanning capabilities, but it seems to be limited to establishing a connection with the specific SIM card inserted.

  • @jonnsandes Why don't you buy SIM from Hologram. It will give you access to all providers: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc, and will pickup the provider based on the existing conditions (Cell Towers, Satellites, etc.). It costs $1 + $0.60/MB per device.
    I assume here that you are talking about LTE-M (CAT-M1).
    About your original question of getting a list of providers with signal strength, etc. I am not sure - never tried - since it is not recommended to specifically naming the provider in given LTE-M APIs.

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