Cell Site Analysis

Cell SitesCell site analysis is a technique used to determine which cells a mobile telephone is likely to connect to given the features and behaviour of the mobile network at a particular geographical point or region of interest.  A forensic cell site expert can correlate this information to the call data records provided by the mobile networks to determine possible locations of a mobile telephone at the time of past connections.

The geographical area that a cell covers is determined by a combination of factors including the cell type, cell orientation, transmission power, the arrangement of other cells, network usage and the physical features of the locality.  Unfortunately, these cell characteristics are variable over time and therefore must be considered as part of cell site analyses.

Only a few years ago cell site analysis was used almost exclusively for more serious crimes with external providers providing expert analyses for the Police. More recently Police intelligence analysts have undergone training to produce their own cell site mapping and/or conduct Radio Frequency Propagation Surveys (RFPS). This training, however, only enables the Police analysts to produce statements of fact.  Due to the complexity of cell site analysis these facts, whilst valid, may not tell the whole story.

The Prosecution usually seek to demonstrate the cell site usage is consistent with their case, but this is rarely to the exclusion of other possibilities.  It is important to consider the defendant’s account of their movements against the cell usage to assess which account, if either, is more likely given the cell site usage pattern.

Using specialist surveying equipment, Keith Borer Consultants can conduct readings on 2G (GSM), 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) technologies on all UK and Ireland mobile telephone networks. Being portable, this equipment allows us to take static readings inside or outside a location of interest or conduct drive surveys. We also offer paper-study exercises where appropriate, which include analysis of the path profile from the cells in question to the target area to assess the impact of physical obstructions which may impede the signal.

Cell Site Experts at Keith Borer Consultants can provide guidance for securing the necessary information from the network providers, as well as advising you on the possibilities which could be investigated and others which perhaps are of little benefit in differentiating between the alternate accounts of events.  We aim to provide easy to use mapping, an interpretation of the evidence and, more importantly, what it means for your case.