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 major 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 its parent company, Tracfone Wireless, and Walmart. Tracfone provides the phone service and Walmart is the retail outlet for buying Straight Talk-branded phones and plans. Users can also make purchases online at the Straight Talk and Walmart websites. For companies providing Tracfone's Straight Talk cell phones to employees, the pay-as-you-go feature removes the need for employees to submit expense reports for phone charges and allows the employer to cap monthly spending for employees wanting to use the phone for non-work communications.
Straight Talk's Leasing Arrangements
Straight Talk leases network equipment from other telephone service providers, making it a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). Straight Talk uses the capacity of major cell company networks to provide service for both GSM phones and CDMA phones. Straight Talk has structured its business this way to avoid the costs of building its own network so that it can provide lower-cost cell plans, which are ideal for business owners who need to provide cell phones to employees with controlled costs, or anyone who wants more control over their cell phone spending.
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
Straight Talk, as of 2018, buys network capacity on all of the major carriers' networks: AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. You can use online lookup services to find the exact location 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.
David Sarokin is a well-known specialist on Internet research. He has been profiled in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post" and in numerous online publications. Based in Washington D.C., he splits his time between several research services, writing content and his work as an environmental specialist with the federal government. David is the author of Missed Information (MIT Press, 2016), a book exploring how better information can lead to a more sustainable future.