How Cell Towers Help Locate Your Phone

How often do you come across a defense lawyer who’s familiar with technology that’s completely incomprehensible to most people? In this age of smartphones and sophisticated software, you need a lawyer who keeps up with the latest in information technology. Law enforcement is riding on the tech bandwagon, so to speak, so it’s important that attorneys be informed.

Cell phone triangulation is among the many hi-tech methods law enforcement personnel use to gather evidence. Put simply, triangulation helps zero in on a phone’s location by recording the time it takes for signals to reach the device. Global positioning satellites do a great job of this, though not all mobile phones are equipped with the technology.


As the term implies, triangulation entails using three cell towers to pinpoint a mobile phone’s position. Each tower’s signal coverage is divided into three sectors namely alpha, beta, and gamma. One tower alone can yield the phone’s position, but that may not be enough in most cases as the phone could be anywhere within a 120-degree sweep. You’ll need the help of other towers close by.

Data from the second tower will shrink the area where the phone is located as it overlaps with data from the first tower. Data from the third tower will then shrink the area even further as it overlaps with data from the first two, resulting in a more accurate location. For triangulation to work, the phone, according to experts, must be negotiating with all three towers at once.


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