Originating Cell Info

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Posted on Wednesday, July 20, 2005 - 02:51 am:   


I have seen various bits and pieces on the web referring to services that can identify the originating location of mobile phone usage. Some are hardware or software add-ons for phones, but some appear to be able to determine an ID for the 'cell' that the phone was in when the message was sent.

Does anyone have any info on how information for the latter is distributed? Is there a way that NowSMS can 'see' this information if its sent from the SMSC?

The commercial potential for this is obviously great (to say the least). But my SMSC doesn't have any answers for me, they seem to know as much as me!

Bryce Norwood - NowSMS Support
Board Administrator
Username: Bryce

Post Number: 4706
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2005 - 09:41 pm:   

Hi Mike,

There's nothing available at the SMS level that would provide this information.

Basically, you have to get down to the SS7 level to access this information. And because of commercial and privacy issues, my understanding is that it is often blocked off from roaming SS7 queries.

I'm not an expert in SS7, but here are a few pointers that may help with the basics, and point you to other useful information in a web search.

Basically, you want to do an HLR (home location register) lookup to find the home operator. An HLR query can return you the VLR (visiting location register), which tells you which operator the user is currently connected to.

Assuming you have access to query the VLR, this should give you reasonably up-to-date information about the current device status, with the cell id being returned from the VLR query.

At least that's my understanding.

Generally speaking, you are very unlikely to get access to this information via SS7. Mobile operators generally see this as commercially valuable information, and some of them offer their own interfaces that you can subscribe to, so that you can get location information from their system ... often with better detail than just getting the cell id that they are connected to.


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