If satellite signals are not accessible, or precision is less important than battery life, making use of Cell-ID is a useful alternative to GPS cell phone location. The location of the cell phone might be computed by the cellular network cell id, which recognizes the cell tower the smartphone is connected to. By knowing the location of this tower, then you can know approximately where the handset might be. But, a tower can cover an enormous area, from a couple of hundred meters, in high populationdensity zones, to a few kilometers in lower density regions. This is the reason location CellID precision is less than than GPS accuracy. Nevertheless location from CellID still provides quite a viable alternative.
Another way of formulating mobile phone position is Triangulation or Mobile Location Services (MLS). Cell Tower Triangulation uses signal analysis data to compute the time it takes signals to travel from your smartphone to at least 3 cell towers to estimate position.
Generally speaking it comes down to what location tracking system is available, and also the need for precision. Hybrid methods are emerging that use various techniques in tandem to provide best available location given available resources. It might be critical to consider how GPS location software applications handle the data and controls mobile phone settings including options of using realtime tracking when needed, or preferring to reduce battery use and data transmitting. Typically the application establishes the position with a GPS receiver and sends the tracking data to a server through a cellular packet data connection. The data connection to the server is usually made over the internet. How often GPS samples are taken and how frequently and by exactly what technique the data is sent to the server impact usefulness and likely costs.
It really is useful to note that Wi-Fi complements the wirelessnetwork grid delivering supplemental conduits for position data to pass along to the net. Smartphones contain a unique digital identifier and when enabled can pass this data, locating cell phones inside the geographic area covered by the internet hotspot.