What are the limitations of determining a 5G smart phone's location?

  • Thread starter dlgoff
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In summary: I'm not sure if that's still true in practice.In summary, 5G smart phone location will be pinging the nearest cell tower. The radius around where it would be would be the range of the tower.
  • #1
dlgoff
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TL;DR Summary
What is the radius around smart phone location
I'm curious about what the radius around where a 5G smart phone location would be.
 
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  • #2
Can you rephrase the question? I'm not sure what radius you're asking about.
 
  • #3
anorlunda said:
Can you rephrase the question? I'm not sure what radius you're asking about.
I'm asking, if you put a 5G smart phone on the ground, and drew a circle around it where it's laying. Can it be tracked? And if so, what would that radius be?
 
  • #4
It will be pinging the nearest cell tower. That places you within the radius of the tower's range. That's the same for 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G or any cellular technology. 5G should be no different.

Otherwise, I'm totally not understanding your question.
 
  • #5
anorlunda said:
It will be pinging the nearest cell tower. That places you within the radius of the tower's range. That's the same for 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G or any cellular technology. 5G should be no different.

Otherwise, I'm totally not understanding your question.
I guess what I'm really wanting to know is, if I'm carrying a smart phone, how closely can I be found. From my location, there should be a circle around me where I can be found. What would that radius be?
 
  • #6
dlgoff said:
I'm asking, if you put a 5G smart phone on the ground, and drew a circle around it where it's laying. Can it be tracked? And if so, what would that radius be?
Does it have its GPS location feature enabled? :wink:

Or are you asking what is the tower-only location resolution and accuracy compared to 4G?
 
  • #7
berkeman said:
Does it have its GPS location feature enabled?
Assuming it does and it's enabled, How close to where the phone is can it be found. BTW I don't have a smart phone. I am just curious about how close I could be found; say I was lost somewhere. i.e from my position, there should be some circle around me where the phone could be found.
 
  • #8
dlgoff said:
Assuming it does and it's enabled, How close to where the phone is can it be found. BTW I don't have a smart phone. I am just curious about how close I could be found; say I was lost somewhere.
It looks like it's pretty good. The GPS accuracy will be independent of 5G or 4G, etc.

1642550860783.png
 
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  • #9
BTW, if you are lost and cell phone battery consumption is a concern, only enable the GPS location feature long enough to get your coordinates (like from Google Maps), then go back to tower-only location feature to save on battery life. Then text your position to 911 (if that feature is enabled in the area where you are), or text it to somebody you know who can relay the information to searcher via the 911 phone network.
 
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  • #10
berkeman said:
It looks like it's pretty good. The GPS accuracy will be independent of 5G or 4G, etc.

View attachment 295708
Okay. Thanks berkeman. That's exactly what I was looking for. 16 feet.
 
  • #11
@berkeman
BTW, I saved that image from GPS.gov
 
  • #12
Actually if you have GPS switched off you can be still located using information from cell towers, but the shape of the area won't be circle, more like some kind of a polygon, as in Voronoi diagram.

5G has a very short range, something like 1000 or 1500 feet, that should put an upper limit on the Voronoi cell size.
 
  • #13
If it's cell tower proximity only, using comparison of signal strengths between two or more towers, along with triangulation, it's not nearly as accurate as GPS, but in an urban are with high density of cell towers, it can get within a block or so. Here's a 911-oriented FCC white paper on various methods of locating a phone:
 
  • #14
There is another potential location method, @dlgoff, and that is via in-range WiFi networks. Maps have been developed based on SSIDs picked up by the phone and enriched with the associated GPS coords. Add enough of these data points and sites such as https://wigle.net/ can provide location to within 20m. Android as least has been harvesting this telemetry for years!
 
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  • #15
From the FCC white paper linked in post #13:

Wi-Fi-based positioning system (WPS) or WiPS/WFPS is used where GPS is inadequate due to various causes including multipath and signal blockage indoors. Wi-Fi positioning takes advantage of the rapid growth of wireless access points in urban areas. The Wi-Fi hotspot database gets filled by correlating mobile device GPS location data with Wi-Fi hotspot MAC addresses. The possible signal fluctuations that may occur between the phone and the access point can increase errors and inaccuracies in the path of the user. Additionally, in a power outage scenario, W-Fi detection may not be possible.​
 
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  • #16
IIRC in theory as the radio frequency increases the resolution of the "spot" you want to triangulate increases so you should be able to have better accuracy at determining your location.
But I suspect that 5G will only be in urban areas since it's usable radius is lower than 4G and you won't probably put a cell tower after every 10th tree in a forest.
 
  • #17
berkeman said:
BTW, if you are lost and cell phone battery consumption is a concern, only enable the GPS location feature long enough to get your coordinates (like from Google Maps), then go back to tower-only location feature to save on battery life. Then text your position to 911 (if that feature is enabled in the area where you are), or text it to somebody you know who can relay the information to searcher via the 911 phone network.
When it comes to low batteries, this will be a cool feature. a real bonus. (Sorry, hope I'm not straying from the topic)

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-79500-x

https://rh.gatech.edu/news/645735/leveraging-5g-network-wirelessly-power-iot-devices
 
  • #18
Interestingly (perhaps):

Both GPS and cel tower 'triangulation' are weak on the 'elevation' part of determining a location. In both cases, the geometry is the problem - best geometric precision is obtained when the satellites (or towers) are at opposite ends of the axis of interest. That's tough for elevation.
 

Related to What are the limitations of determining a 5G smart phone's location?

What are the limitations of determining a 5G smart phone's location?

1. What is the accuracy of determining a 5G smart phone's location?

The accuracy of determining a 5G smart phone's location depends on various factors such as the strength of the 5G signal, the number of available 5G cell towers, and the quality of the device's GPS receiver. In ideal conditions, the accuracy can be within a few meters, but in areas with weak 5G coverage, the accuracy may decrease.

2. Can a 5G smart phone be located indoors?

Yes, a 5G smart phone can be located indoors, but the accuracy may be affected by factors such as the building's materials, the number of walls between the device and the 5G cell tower, and the strength of the 5G signal. In some cases, the device may not be able to connect to a 5G network indoors, making it impossible to determine its location.

3. Are there any privacy concerns with determining a 5G smart phone's location?

Yes, there are potential privacy concerns with determining a 5G smart phone's location. Location data can be used to track an individual's movements and activities, which may raise privacy concerns. It is important for companies to have strict policies in place to protect user privacy and ensure that location data is not misused.

4. Can a 5G smart phone's location be determined without the user's consent?

No, a 5G smart phone's location cannot be determined without the user's consent. In order for a 5G device to be located, it must be connected to a 5G network, and the user must have given permission for their location to be shared with the network or a specific app.

5. Are there any limitations in determining a 5G smart phone's location in remote or rural areas?

Yes, there may be limitations in determining a 5G smart phone's location in remote or rural areas. These areas may have limited 5G coverage, which can affect the accuracy of location data. In some cases, the device may not be able to connect to a 5G network at all, making it impossible to determine its location.

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