When you make a call on your cell phone, it sends signals using radio frequencies to the nearest cell tower. The radio signal is used to keep your phone connected to the network, and is periodically transmitted over different frequencies within the channel so that the network can continuously track you. The phone’s relative location is then triangulated based on the time it takes for the signal to travel to several nearby towers, as well as which direction that signal is coming from. Triangulation is pinpointed as more towers pick up the same incoming signals. Cell phones are able to leverage Wi-Fi connections to improve accuracy by adding another data point in addition to the standard three of GPS, Wi-Fi, and cell towers
For example, if your phone is at point A and you make a call, your cell tower will receive it first. You’ll notice how quickly your phone rings or vibrates when you hear it ringing or see it vibrating—this happens because of how close the cell tower is compared to where you are. If this weren’t true and something else was interfering with the transmission (like mountains), then there would be a delay between when the call started ringing and when someone heard/felt their device go off.
Triangulation is pinpointed as more towers pick up the same incoming signals.
Triangulation is the process of locating an object by determining the relative distance from two or more known points. It’s a common method used by cell phone companies to determine the location of a cell phone and can be used in many other applications as well.
The steps to triangulation are:
- The cell tower receives signals from different phones at different times and uses this information to calculate their distance from each tower.
- Additional towers are called in until there are enough towers that can receive signals from all phones within range, which allows them to calculate which cell towers have been crossed by each signal, as well as its coordinates relative to those overlapped by other signals (these locations become known as “intersection points”).
- Cell phones are able to leverage Wi-Fi connections to improve accuracy by adding another data point in addition to the standard three of GPS, Wi-Fi, and cell towers.
Wi-Fi is an interesting technology because it can be used to track the location of cell phones, even when they are not connected to a cellular network. The reason for this is that your phone will still continue to look for and connect with nearby Wi-Fi networks in order to save battery and data usage. When your phone does find a Wi-Fi network, it will provide information about its closest location by broadcasting this data over radio waves. This makes it possible for cell towers and other devices equipped with radios (such as other people’s phones) nearby you will be able to receive these signals and use them as an additional way of triangulating your position based on distance from multiple points – including but not limited only those provided by GPS satellites or cell tower IDs above ground level (which may not necessarily correspond directly underneath).
A cell phone uses radio frequencies, signals and triangulation to determine its location
A cell phone sends signals using a system of towers that transmit radio waves to and from the phone. As you move between these towers, your position can be triangulated using these towers’ known locations.
This is a complex process that involves multiple data points and radio frequencies in order to pinpoint your location.