FORENSIC COMPUTER SERVICE

phone: 800-655-5245

CELLULAR TRACKING - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cellular phones are wireless devices that communicate with cellular towers. In metropolitan areas the range of the cell tower is much less than those found in rural areas including Interstate Highways where the range is usually much longer and wider.

Cellular companies collect data on your phone calls, Internet use and text messaging.  While originally used for billing purposes law enforcement is now using this data in criminal cases to place suspects at locations before, during and after the crime occured.

Many times this data is misrepresented in Court and never challenged by the defense due to the lack of experts with experience in wireless technology.

The U.S. Federal Government mandated that cellular carriers provide what is called "Enhanced 911" (E-911) to 95% of the cellular operator's customers by September, 2012.  The cellular carriers must provide the location (using latitude and longitude) of callers with 300 meters and within six minutes of being asked for the information. While this system has saved lives it is by no means 100% accurate.


Cellular companies maintain what is called a "Call Detail Report" (CDR). The use of this information is becoming more popular with law enforcement in placing a suspect at a particuluar location at a particular time.  Many interpret the data incorrectly using inaccurate methods.  With this information one is able to map which cellular tower was used by a phone but not the exact location of that phone. These reports can be used to place a phone within in a geographical area of varying size if enough information is available.


In 2012 a Federal Judge ruled a FBI agent could not testify to a phone's location and limited his testimony to how the cellular system works even though the agent testified in a hearing he achieved a 100% success rate in using his method.  The prosecution had to remove exhibits specific to the alleged location of the cell phone before the jury trial could continue.

FCSI's management is very experienced in wireless communications including the maintenance of police and fire department wireless radio systems, commercial business wireless radio and the installation and maintenance of equipment used on the Nextel cellular system.

In cases involving cellular phone location and tracking it is vital the data is correctly examined to determine all possibilities applicable to the specifics of your case.