How is your roaming cell phone located by the system ?

If you are traveling cross country with your cell phone and a person makes a call to you, how does the cellular system locate you to complete the call. It has no idea where you are, and I can't imagine it transmitting a signal from every cell tower in the country searching for your phone, hoping for a response.

5 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Christopher is right on. I will add that your phone is constantly comparing signal strength and is always looking for a stronger signal. So as you drive down the road your phone will switch from one tower (cell) to the next tower (cell) and so on (looking for your carrier's towers or a competitor's with which your provider has an agreement to use, i.e. $$).

    To put it in more basic terms, when your phone is on it is sending a signal every couple seconds saying "hello Mr. Tower, my name is 212-555-1212, could you please send this signal to my carrier so that he will know where I am and can then direct incoming calls to you so you will send them to me?"

    Sounds time consuming but this is fully automated and the signals are sent at or near the speed of light.

  • 5 years ago


    Source(s): Get 100% Free Phone :
  • 1 decade ago

    As you are traveling your cell phone is actively seeking to stay in a covered network. So your cell phone will have a base location and when you leave that coverage, your cell start emitting signal to seek for the first nearby tower available and if found, will try to see if it's a tower belonging to your network (all cool) or if it's one of another company (the company will charge your cell provider and you will get roaming charges if you borrow their service). That's why if you go in your basement and lose signal, you might have a beep-beep and then your phone should start looking and when you emerge, another beep and your phone connect again. Now once it finds a tower, the tower registers your information, sends it to the control center which analyses it and find out who you belong to and then sends your location and specs to your provider. When your buddy calls, your provider knows where to find you.

    Source(s): Member of the Tech Group at T-mobile
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Your phone constantly transmits an identifier that is picked up by all the cell phone towers in range.

    They always know where you are.

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  • 1 decade ago

    every cell phone has its own special "address" Cell stations in your area periodically query all phones in its range for their "address". It can then send a list of addresses it knows about to a central location where the sending cell station can look and find out where to route the call

    Source(s): general cell knowledge
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