Straight Talk Wireless offers nationwide cell phone service without owning a single cellular tower or antenna. Instead, the Straight Talk service leases the networks of other providers. With a variety of leasing arrangements, Straight Talk offers service over phones that use either of the two main cell phone technologies, CDMA and GSM. You can use several online resources to find the networks that Straight Talk relies on and identify the wireless antennas and towers in your area.
Straight Talk Wireless Service
Straight Talk Wireless is a pay-as-you-go cell phone plan offered through a joint arrangement of two companies, Tracfone Wireless and Walmart. Tracfone provides the phone service and Walmart is the retail outlet for buying Straight Talk phones and plans. Users can also make purchases online at the Straight Talk and Walmart websites.
Tracfone's Leasing Arrangements
Tracfone leases network equipment from other telephone service providers, an arrangement known as a mobile virtual network operator. MVNO Dynamics, a website that tracks the details of worldwide MVNO operators, reports that Straight Talk uses the services of three cell phone networks. Sprint Nextel is the primary service provider for Straight Talk, but the service also relies on the networks of T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile provides service for GSM phones and the other networks support CDMA phones.
Distinguishing Towers and Antennas
Cell phone networks rely on more than a million antennas across the country to transmit and receive phone calls. Many of the antennas, in turn, are mounted on towers. A single tower can contain a dozen or more antennas from several cell phone service providers as well as from non-commercial communications services, such as police transmissions. The larger towers are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, and information on their location, ownership and antenna arrangements is included in the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration data management system.
Straight Talk's Antennas and Towers
You can use online look-up services to find the details of towers and antennas used in your area by the three network providers that support Straight Talk's service. For example, in a one-mile area in downtown Manhattan, there are 68 towers and 865 antennas. Many of these are owned or used by Sprint Nextel, Verizon or T-Mobile and can support Straight Talk service in the area.