|Review of the Loxcel Web Page|
I normally don’t
review web pages, but this one is just so closely related to what I do on this
web page that it seemed impossible to ignore. Unlike my site however,
Loxcel is not a hobby page, it’s actually a serious venture. As such it
comes in two different flavors: free (for casual users); and a subscription
offerings that provides some rather useful features.
What Loxcel is can best be described as a Canada-wide source of site location maps that are kept up-to-date more aggressively than anything I can do for Southern Ontario alone. They have a “channel” to Industry Canada that nets them timelier site updates than what I can get from the publicly-available database on the Industry Canada web page. In addition to the more up-to-date site locations, the page also provides a wealth of information on each site.
Depending upon your subscription level, they offer a variety of “filters” for choosing which sites are displayed on the map at any given time. For free users, these filters are restricted to just the various providers, but for those with a paid subscription you can choose from a wider range of filters, such as those that display only LTE sites, those with co-locations, or new sites added since the last update.
Clicking on an individual site pulls up a list of all the providers and frequencies operating at that location. You also get other detailed information including antenna azimuth (which direction they point), height above the ground, power output, antenna gain, cable loss, radio manufacturer, radio model number, antenna manufacturer, and antenna model number. Much of this latter information isn’t of much use to a casual user, but it’s only available with the subscription service anyway. It’s really meant for industry types who can use this site to quickly find the sort of information that would only matter to them.
Besides this list, there are also numerous other tabs containing even more information. Two of these tabs allow user-submitted information. The first is called Notes, which allows users to submit text describing something peculiar about the site. The second is called Photos and it allows users to upload photographs of the site. Other tabs give the exact address of the site, while another includes an option to export all of the site information, as well as its location, to a KML file. This type of file can be loaded into Google Earth.
A wealth of other features allow users to find the nearest site and which sectors of that site would provide the strongest signal for their chosen location. However, this feature doesn’t completely abide by the current filter. It does list only channels from the provider you have chosen in your filter, but not the air interface technology. Say for instance you picked Rogers LTE. You’d get a list containing just Rogers, but it would include LTE, HSPA, and GSM channels.
In a way, they compete with the work I do to provide cell site maps and I have often thought of giving up on it and referring users to them. Their existence has admittedly cooled my enthusiasm for maintaining my own maps, because theirs are so richly detailed and provide more up-to-date information (even for non-subscribers).
However, I do feel that their method of site presentation lacks the ability to provide a clear overview of the sites in a given area. I find their iconography a little less than optimal, and until you zoom in very close you never see all the sites displayed at once like you do on my maps. Instead, groups of close sites are combined into a red circle with the number of individual sites in that general vicinity shown as a number.
This works fine when
there are thousands of sites on the map at once (due to your current zoom
level), but when you are looking at an area that is from 2 km to around 50 km
wide I feel that showing each individual site, even if it looks a little
crowded, gives the viewer a much greater appreciation of the cellular footprint
in that area.
If you’ve never tried this site before, why not give it a try at www.loxcel.com. Note however that not all of the features I've mentioned in the above review will be available to you. Some are for subscription members only, however after you sign in to you free account you can click "Demo" to upgrade to a full Paid Subscription for approximately 2 days to try it out (but note that you can do this only once per browser).
Loxcel have provided a PDF file that outlines the subscription services they offer. You can download it here.