Using GSM signals (LBS) for acquiring location

GSM cell based location is a technology commonly used to determine object’s position. Sometimes you can also hear the term “LBS” (Location Based Services), although this term is much wider and not always related to GSM-based positioning only.

Unlike using satellite navigation (GPS, GLONASS and similar systems) acquiring position with GSM signals only is less accurate. So why use it? The reason is GSM signal can be received in worse conditions: no clear sky view is necessary.

GSM cell based location very is important for security applications (like car anti-theft, kids safety). Also it is helpful for long distance goods tracking – when the goods are shipped in metal containers or when internal battery consumption matters, but precise location is not absolutely necessary.

Navixy natively supports LBS feature and especially GSM cell based location for many tracking devices already. In most cases the combination of GPS and GSM is used: when there is no GPS data, the system uses LBS as a backup. For example, when a car enters an underground parking, the observer can see last known accurate GPS location and current GSM-based location (with some accuracy range).


LBS implementation

From the technical side two things are involved there:

  1. Reading GSM information from devices. Manufacturers of GPS tracking devices do LBS feature implementation in different ways. Some devices transmit GSM info data (MCC, MNC, LAC, CID, RXLEV) continuously, others wait for a request from server, sent through SMS or GPRS, while many support both ways. Depending on the goals, different implementation can be required regarding GSM position updated: scheduled / on request / both; which channel to be used: GPRS / SMS / both.
  2. GSM base stations location database. Navixy uses many sources, some of them are worldwide, others are used for particular regions. If you don’t have any specific database (i.e. you partner closely with some local GSM provider), we can use our sources for your projects.

If you would like to learn more about LBS features in Navixy or want to add GSM cell location for your device, please contact us.

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