What is phone tracking

Phone tracking is a system to spot the current location of a cell phone (the phone could be moving or stationary). Any phone nowadays can be tracked with the help of GPS or radio singles multilateration. Lets us find out what is phone tracking.

In order to locate a cell phone with radio signals multilateration, the phone should send roaming signals to the nearby antenna tower; however, the target user doesn’t have to make a call to send the signal. GSM depends upon the signal power to the antenna masts.

Mobile phone tracking systems are used by telecom companies for spotting the whereabouts of a cell phone.


Actually, cell phone tracking technology works because a cell phone remains in contact with the nearby base stations. So, if a cell phone is communicating with a certain base station, that means the phone is being used in that area.

Telecom companies use advanced systems in order to find out the sector where the cell phone is being used. They can also have a rough estimate of the phone’s distance from the nearby tower.

GMS phone tracking uses multilateration or dedicated trackers for spotting a GSM-enabled phone. Actually, the purpose of phone tracking is to catch the owner of the phone.

Types of Localization-Based Systems:

Network based

In network-based systems, as the name suggests, the service providers network is used to track the location of the target handset. In this way, the phone’s location is tracked seamlessly. This technology is older than GPS.

The accuracy of this system depends upon the base station cells concentration and the use of the state-of-the-art timing methods. Generally, in urban environments, the accuracy is higher.

In order to use network-based technique, software and hardware has to be installed within the infrastructure of the provider.



IN handset-based technology, a phone is tracked only when tracking software is installed on it. If the phone is GPS-enabled, then the accuracy of its location will be higher. Information about the phone’s location is sent to the carrier through the monitoring app installed on the phone.


Such mobile phone monitoring apps can be installed on smartphones based on OS, such as Android, iOS, BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile and Symbian.


UMTS or GSM based cell phone with SIM cards in it can be tracked with ease through rough radio measurements, including round-trip time, signal strength and Cell ID. So, the measurements are received from the SIM card in the phone, not from the phone directly.



Crowdsource Wifi data is also used for tracking a cell phone. Nowadays, more and more phones come with WiFi, so companies have developed latest methods for positioning a WiFi-enabled phone. Most phones out there have a combination of Wi-Fi and GPS tracking systems.


In hybrid positioning systems, both handset-based and network-based technologies are used to position a mobile phone. For instance, in some phones, GPS and Assisted GPS along the network track the location of the phone.

As an alternative, the phone’s location can also be positioned through the satellite. Such services can be used to track phones with Google Maps.

A hybrid tracking system combines many location technologies to find a phone’s location, such as network environment data, IP addresses, LTE, GSM, WiMAX and WiFi.

Operational Purpose

Actually, every cell phones emits signals and the cell phone towers listen for those signals and determine which tower can communicate with the cell phone. The target user may take the phone with him from one location to another, so the antenna towers continue to monitor the signals and the cell phone is tracked by the nearby tower.

The relative strength of the signals is compared from different antenna towers, and the phone’s location is determined, but this location is not 100% accurate.



In many coutries, it is unlawful to track the phone of a person without his consent. Therefore, it is recommend that strict security measures should be taken for services making use of cell phone tracking techniques. Before the tracking system is used, permission should be obtained from the target user.

In Europe, for example, most countries have passed laws to keep the cell phone users’ location data safe and secure, and no cell phone company can share this data with anyone.

In the USA, however, there is limited permission as to the use of cell phone tracking, and government agencies can track a suspect’s cell phone.

Authorizes, such as the police is allowed to get permission in order to track phones in emergency. For instance, the phone of a missing person is tracked to find them. In some case, the government agencies can get access to the phone’s microphone so as to eavesdrop on conversations even when the phone is turned off.

If a person comes to know that someone is spying on his or her phone, the phone owner can file a case against that person. This is because tracking someone’s phone means you are interfering in their personal life, which is illegal.

However, this doesn’t mean cell phone tracking has not benefits for us. Parents can install a spy app on their kids’ cell phone in order to keep tabs on them while they are away. The tracking app will keep them aware of their kids’ whereabouts, and will let them know what their kids are doing on their cell phones.

In the same way, a husband can install a spy app on her wife’s cell phone to make sure she is not cheating on him. Of course, he should do it only if he is sure to some extent that his wife is doing what she is not supposed to do.

So, this was a detailed article about what phone tracking is and how a phone is tracked with the sue of different technologies available today. Cell phone tracking has a number of benefits, but its misuse can cause serious problems for the victims. Therefore, one should not track anyone’s phone’s before letting them know upfront.

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