[Tagging] tower vs mast vs antenna

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Wed Feb 6 23:47:03 UTC 2013

fly <lowflight66 at googlemail.com> writes:

> I was trying to get a common tower preset working for JOSM [1], when I
> started reading about the terms on wikipedia (english).
> As I am not a native speaker, I like to ask natives about there
> thoughts but as far as I understood it.
> What we call man_made=mast is still a tower and man_made=antenna
> should be mast, where as antennas are only the transmitter/receiver.

(I'm a native speaker of US English, and an amateur radio operator.)

In the US, we use "tower" in several ways:

  fire tower - a structure with stairs and a room on top for looking for
  fires.  This is tower_type=observation, I think.

  antenna tower - a structure that may or may not be guyed intended to
  support antennas.  The tower is the structural part, and the antennas
  are used for receive/transmit.  The guying is not considered that
  important (the structural people of course have to get it right, but
  it doesn't cause people to call something a tower or not a tower).

  (very rare) coastal defense tower - set up for observation, to
  control artillery, so it should get tower_type=observation, in my

I do not recognize the mast vs tower (guyed vs unguyed) notion in
wikipedia as generally valid, although a lightweight guyed pole for
temporary use might be called a mast, whereas a permanent structure that
is more substantial than 2" pipe is usually a tower.

In UK English, the word "aerial" is used instead of "antenna".

I have the impression, not well substantiated, that what I would call a
tower in the US is often called a mast in the UK, particularly if it is
not particularly tall and not built of steel lattice.

Stations that broadcast on MF (0.5 MHz to 1.7 MHz, more or less)
typically use the tower itself as the radiator, while VHF and up
stations have antennas at the top.  But from the OSM viewpoint, I don't
find that particularly importan.  (Also, in general I think JOSM presets
should support what taginfo shows as common, rather than leading the
way.  But I don't know if that's the normal view.)

So I am inclined to keep
with tower:type either communication or observation.
This is how I experience josm now, and it seems like it's right.

There are also poles for "streetlights", or things like that.
I would not call them towers, because they are not substantial or tall
enough for that.


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