Historic cell site analysis – Overview of principles and survey methodologies

Matthew Stephen Tart, Iain Brodie, Nicholas Gleed, James Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The data stored on mobile phones is a common source of investigative and evidential material, but there may be further useful information available such as Call Data Records, held by network operators for billing purposes.

Historic Cell Site Analysis involves the analysis of these records, in conjunction with other information such as survey and geographic data, to determine areas where a phone may, or may not, have been when it was used.

This paper gives an overview of how a handset and mobile phone network interact with each other along with a range of methodologies for data gathering and interpretation (including use of surveys). These methods are assessed, with advantages and disadvantages highlighted for each. Although many of the general principles apply equally to 2G (GSM) and 3G (UMTS) phone networks, only 2G networks are discussed in detail.

Live Cell Site Analysis (locating a mobile phone in real time) is not covered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
JournalDigital Investigation
Early online date5 Jan 2012
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • cell
  • site
  • analysis
  • survey
  • digital
  • forensics
  • GSM
  • UMTS
  • telecomms
  • location


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