The colossal contenders for the title of tallest radio antenna in the world rise majestically above our towns and cities. But beyond their astounding size, these leviathans are a hub of communication. Join us, as we venture into the realm of the world’s biggest radio tower – an odyssey into the very veins of the global communication network.
The story of these gigantic structures is remarkable, echoing the spirit of human endeavour and reflecting the ceaseless drive to connect and communicate. In this article, we’ll list purpose-built telecommunications towers by height, rather than skyscrapers equipped with radio antennas. Let’s find out where the planet’s tallest antenna is located.
The Two Types of Telecommunications Tower
Integral to our global communications network, the tallest radio towers in the world come in two main types: free-standing (or self-supporting) towers, and guyed masts. Though both serve similar functions, the design, construction, and applicability of each vary considerably.
Free-standing towers are standalone structures that don’t require external support. Their robust design enables them to bear heavy loads, and they take up less ground space, making them ideal for areas with space limitations, such as cities.
Guyed masts, on the other hand, are tall structures supported by guy wires anchored to the ground. These are cost-effective and can reach greater heights quickly, but require a larger land area for the anchor points. They’re often preferred when height and rapid construction are key, provided there’s sufficient land space.
Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt
Location: Western Australia, Australia | Height: 387 metres | Towers: 13
Named after the Prime Minister of Australia who mysteriously disappeared in 1967, the communication station is operated by the Australian Department of Defence on behalf of the Royal Australian Navy and the United States Navy. While the thirteen antennas aren’t the tallest radio towers in the world, they were the tallest man-made structures in the Southern Hemisphere. The tallest of the thirteen is 387 metres tall and the other twelve are between 304 metres and 364 metres. They’re used to convey very low frequency radio transmissions to ships and submarines in the western Pacific and eastern Indian Oceans.
Lualualei VLF Transmitter
Location: Hawaii, USA | Height: 458.1 metres | Completed: 1972
Electrically insulated from the ground, the Lualualei VLF Transmitter is owned and operated by the United States Navy. It was built to transmit commands to submerged submarines in the Very Low Frequency range. The existing antenna of the station, constructed in 1972, comprises two guyed masts, each 458.1 metres tall. In the early 1970s they were believed to be the tallest military towers in the Western Hemisphere.
Location: Moscow, Russia | Height: 540.1 metres | Completed: 1967
The Ostankinskaya telebashnya was the world’s biggest tower until the CN Tower in Canada was completed in 1976. Europe’s tallest freestanding structure and one of the tallest radio towers in the world, it’s owned by the Russian TV and Radio Broadcasting Network and was built to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution.
Location: North Dakota, USA | Height: 605.9 metres | Completed: 1963
When it was built in the early 1960s, the KVLY-TV mast was the world’s tallest radio tower and the tallest structure in the world. It was succeeded by the now collapsed Warsaw Radio Mast (which was the biggest radio tower at 646 metres) and regained the title of the world’s tallest structure until the Burj Khalifa was built in 2008. The guyed mast covers a total area of 160 acres and is made up of a 590-metre lattice tower and a 15.9-metre antenna.
Location: California, USA | Height: 625 metres | Completed: 2000
The 625-metre guyed mast is the tallest structure in California and a contender for the planet’s tallest antenna tower. It’s also known as the Sacramento Joint Venture Tower and serves much of California’s Central Valley, covering a number of cities including Sacramento, Stockton and Modesto.
Location: Tokyo, Japan | Height: 634 metres | Completed: 2012
The tallest radio antenna in the world is the freestanding Tokyo Skytree. Completed at a cost of ¥65 billion, or roughly £410 million, its primary use is as a radio and television broadcast tower and serves the Kantō region which includes the greater Tokyo area. The stunning Tokyo Skytree, also the world’s tallest tower, has two observation decks. According to the designers, the structure can absorb up to 50% of the energy from an earthquake.
Scaling the Highest Heights
From the Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt in Australia, to the breathtaking Tokyo Skytree in Japan, we have witnessed how engineering ingenuity can reach unparalleled heights.
Each of these radio towers holds not only a place on the list of the tallest radio towers, but also stories of the relentless effort to connect, regardless of distance and boundaries. These structures are much more than their steel, concrete, and height – they’re a testament to technological prowess.