Cell ID for positioning – this is how it works

Cell ID can locate any device with a GSM/WCDMA/CDMA modem. The good side is that it is low cost and the infrastructure is already there. The downside is that it is not as accurate as other geopositioning technologies – all depending of the proximity of base transceiver stations.

Four parameters for creating a unique Cell ID location – using GSM

Mobile country code – MCC. This code identifies the country, for example 310 for the U.S or 240 for Sweden. Mobile network code – MNC. Location Area Code (LAC) is a unique number of current local area. CellID – CID. This is a unique number used to identify each base transceiver station or sector of a base transceiver station.

Positioning parameters when using CDMA radio technology

The System ID. The Network ID. The Base Station ID.

Positioning parameters when using WCDMA radio technology

Mobile country code – MCC. This code identifies the country. Mobile network code – MNC. Location Area Code – LAC. CellID (CID) the unique number to identify base transceiver stations. Additional parameters for Cell ID location are the signal strength of the cell tower, the timing advance value for the cell tower when available (optional) and the primary scrambling code for WCDMA and physical CellID for LTE.

How to use Cell ID for positioning

Cell ID positioning is using the fact that every base transceiver station is sending out a unique id combined with different parameters in various radio technologies as described above. The combination of those parameters can be used as a reference for positioning. By searching in a Cell ID database with these parameters you can find the geographical coordinates latitude and longitude for the specific Cell ID.

How to use Cell ID for tracking of IoT devices

IoT devices are by default connected to Internet in some way. Most IoT devices are placed indoors making GPS positioning difficult. Cell ID positioning is therefore more suitable and most IoT devices already have a cellular modem installed making Cell ID positioning easy and cost-effective.

Combain’s Cell ID database

Combain have more than 88 million Cell IDs from more than 1000 operators in our database making it the world’s largest available database for mobile positioning. We receive millions of location updates on a daily basis improving our database and customer service.