Tracking GSM phones – some information

By: Marawan Alwaraki, October 30, 2012
This is a guest post by James. Credits go to him. To write us a guest post click here.


Tracking a cell phone is sometime a necessity and sometimes the product of a suspicious mind. It could also be a worried parent wanting to keep his or her child safe and it could be a suspicious spouse. Regardless of the reason why one wants to track a phone, cell phone tracking software can come to the rescue. Tracking cell phones can be done by downloading and installing specific software which will then function with the help of GPS signal or by using the closest cell phone towers. Using radio signals to locate the phone requires the phone to be close to the cell phone tower and also be transmitting signals. This is where GSM tracking comes in.


GSM or Global System for Mobile Communications is just a set of standards and protocols. It establishes a common base for cell phones interestingly the first call over this network was made way back in 1982. Today, GSM tracking of phones is an advanced technology and the best part is that it does not need any kind of specialized software. GSM phone tracking works on the simple principle of multilateration of signals that exchange between the device and the network of antennas or cell masts that dot the countryside. An operator or service provider simply has to collect this information and use it.

GSM phone tracking can yield information pertaining to the location of a phone as long as the phone is switched on. Probably the best feature of such a system of tracking is that it does not need the GPS module to be activated on the phone. So it works for a phone that may not be “advanced” enough to have a GPS functionality. Take for instance the function of Google Maps Mobile. It does not rely on a GPS functionality to discover the geographical location of a cell phone and its user.

Google or a service provider will be able to use the physical or on ground coordinates of the radio towers or the cell phone towers and the transaction of signals that take place between the tower and the phone. With the knowledge of the coordinates of the cell phone towers and the information exchange with the cell phone, the GSM device can be tracked down. GSM tracking also works with multiple satellites which collect data in order to find out the exact position of the device. There is a higher level of accuracy with the GPS tracking system when compared to the GSM system.

So, even though the purpose of both the GPS and GSM tracking mechanisms are to locate the physical whereabouts of the phone, the methodology to achieve this result differs greatly. The only role for software in some phones as far as GSM tracking goes is when the GSM capabilities of the phone are used to transmit the data related to the location over the cellular network of the service provider. GSM data comes in handy even more because it does not need any extra actions on the part of the user. It is one tracking function that takes place almost automatically.


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