GSM Cell Phone Tracking

Cell phone tracking is a broad term that describes numerous methods of establishing the current geographic location and/or monitoring the movement and heading of a cell phone or mobile device. GSM cell tracking refers to a form of network-based cell phone tracking that is often (incorrectly) referred to as triangulation or in the investigation industry as cell tower tracking, plotting or pinging.

gsm cell tracking


Please note that this service is not available in all countries due to local laws and regulations. Please also note that this service is not available for all purposes. We will not entertain requests for cell phone tracking that we deem unethical or that, in our opinion may be used to harass, stalk, make unauthorized contact with, harm or intimidate another person. To utilize this service you must provide verifiable identification information which will be kept on record in the event that a criminal or other investigation is launched.

If you need to know where someone is right now (or where they will be at any particular time) and if you do not have access to the person's phone then the cell phone tracking services listed below may be of interest to you. Further down the page you will find links to information about software-based tracking applications (for device security, child protection, employee monitoring) and hardware-based tracking solutions (for law enforcement, military and government agencies) that are available.

Apart from After Hours SOS tracking, all orders must be submitted before 4pm Monday-Friday. No new orders can be accepted on weekends or after 4pm on weekdays. After Hours SOS tracking is not an emergency response service and as tracking availability can not be assured at all times, this service should only be used as a last resort when all else has failed.


If you need to determine where a person is most likely residing or working then this type of tracking is ideal. It can be scheduled for any time of day or night. Tracking is performed twice, on two separate occasions - anything from 30 minutes to 1 week apart. This is done to verify that the address obtained on the first occasion is correct.

Schedule Base Localization


This service is intended to support interdiction or the apprehension of a moving target or a person that is currently stationary but who might change location before interception is likely. The price includes 10 locations tracked in one hour - roughly 5-6 mins apart. Pricing for larger volume enquiries or more frequent tracking is available on request.

Schedule Active Interception


Note: Only available on Vodacom and MTN networks. If a loved one has run away, has not arrived somewhere they are expected to be, has disappeared or been abducted, or is otherwise in trouble or danger at an unknown location with their cell phone turned on and in their possession then this service may be the answer. Please first contact the police and emergency services before contacting us.

Get After Hours SOS Tracking


In most cases it is possible to obtain information about a phone's last reporting location (to within the radius of a few hundred metres at best) if the phone is not turned on or has not been reachable for up to 72 hours. This is useful when needing to know approximately where a person was last known to be located and it makes search and rescue operations easier by narrowing down the search grid.

Get a Last Known Location


cell phone trackingThis type of tracking is network-based which means it utilizes the service provider's GSM network infrastructure (and some very smart software, complex alorithms and the laws of physics) to estimate or localize the phone's current position relative to the cell phone towers in it's vicinity. It does not use the Global Positioning System of GPS navigation satellites to calculate the cell phone's current location and therefore does not require access to the device being tracked. The downside of this, of course, is that it cannot deliver the degree of accuracy that GPS navigation devices do.

For technical buffs, the way it works is through a process known as multilateration. Basically, it involves measuring the difference in distance to two or more cell towers at known locations that broadcast signals at known times. The method is known as U-TDOA (Uplink Time Difference of Arrival). Two other common multilateration methods used are AOA (Angle of Arrival) and (E-OTD) Enhanced Observed Time Difference. Feel free to search our Document Library under Resources in the main menu at the top of the page for white papers, technical publications, patent documents and other reference material related to tracking technologies and techniques.


  • GSM cell tracking is non-intrusive
  • Doesn't interfere with regular device operation
  • It doesn't require user consent (unless legally required)
  • It works with all phone types and models
  • Works across all GSM network service providers
  • It doesn't rely on the involvement of the user
  • and no access to the handset is needed.


  • GSM cell tracking is not pin-point accurate and can be out by a few hundred meters
  • It is expensive compared to other tracking methods and is usually billed per location
  • It is totally dependent on the GSM architecture and network operator infrastructure
  • The availability of access to location-based services like GSM tracking can't be assured

    In order for network-based location tracking to be done, the following conditions must be met:

    • 1  The handset being tracked must be turned on,
    • 2  A working SIM card must be inserted into that handset,
    • 3  The device must be connected to a mobile network,
    • 4  The cell phone number (MSISDN) must be known**.

    **The cell phone number can be obtained if one is able to provide:

    •  Either the 15-digit IMEI number of the handset in question, or
    •  A cell phone number that was previously used with that handset, or
    •  The International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) is known.

    The accuracy of cell phone tracking is largely dependent on the population density of cell phone towers (base transceiver stations) within the handset's broadcasting and reception range. In a metropolitan city there would be a far greater concentration of base transceiver stations than in a desolate area of the same size.

    accuracy of gsm tracking

    As a result, the accuracy of positions in rural areas will be less precise than those in urban areas. If you are looking for a more accurate cell phone tracking solution that uses GPS technology to track smartphones then you would need to consider a software-based solution such as CellTrack which costs R450.00. Take a look at the CellTrack GPS tracking website for more information.


South African Police emblem

Yes, they can. In the case of a genuine emergency situation (as defined by the RICA Act and as detailed below) a police officer is entitled to request the location of a cell phone - even telephonically if time does not permit the proper procedure from being followed. Bear in mind that not all police officers will have the required knowledge or training to arrange cell phone tracking, but as long as you remain respectful and calm, you should be able to have your enquiry passed onto another officer who can assist, or up the chain of command. If you feel you need to escalate your matter above station level then consult our Trusted Partner Directory (under Resources in the main menu) for police executive management contact details.

Tracking someone that is suicidal

You should contact the police immediately. Please do not call us first as we are not emergency service providers. If the police are unwilling or unable to assist you then by all means contact us. The law entitles the tracking of a person's cell phone if there are reasonable grounds to believe that:

  1. The person threatens (or has threatened) to take his or her own life,
  2. The person threatens (or has threatened) to perform an act which would or may endanger his or her own life,
  3. The person would or may cause the infliction of serious bodily harm to himself or herself.

Tracking someone that is in danger

As with a suicide scenario, this is an emergency situation and you must contact the police immediately. If you are unsuccessful with the police then and only then should you contact us. The law makes provision for the tracking of a person in the event of an emergency if there are reasonable grounds to believe that:

  1. The person's life is being (or is likely to be) endangered,
  2. The person is dying (or is likely to) die,
  3. The person is being (or has been) seriously injured.


Legal restrictions aside, GSM cell tracking is not suitable for many types of situations and circumstances. In some cases it simply is not accurate enough to be of much use, but in most cases, it is the cost that makes it unsuitable - especially movement tracking over extended or indefinite periods of time. Depending on your local laws, you may be able to use more effect tracking options for these situations:

Tracking a lost or stolen cell phone

The tracking of a lost or stolen cellphone is one of the most common queries we receive. Unfortunately, due to the complexities involved in tracking a stolen device, this service is only viable if the device or the information contained on that device is of a very high value (or irreplaceable). Although we do not technically use this type of cell phone tracking to identify who has your stolen phone and where they are located, it has been included here because this is where most people land when wanting to trace a lost/stolen phone. To get more information about this service please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and include the following information:

  • The type of phone (make, model)
  • Whether it was lost, stolen or taken by force
  • When and where the loss occurred
  • Let us know whether you have (or can get) the IMEI Number of the phone

In order for us to find your device, you must be able to produce or have done/not done the following:

  1. The loss/theft must be reported to the police and service provider,
  2. Don't blacklist the phone or it will be untraceable (you can block the SIM),
  3. You must know the 15-digit IMEI number of the handset.

A Better Plan...

Milk Carton Missing Picture

Here's an idea... instead of waiting until a phone is lost or stolen, why not consider an anti-theft application?

We can hook you up with software that will not only allow you to track your device easily and without cost, it will enable you to lock your device, sound an alarm, and in most cases, remotely recover important information or wipe the phone entirely.

Apps of this nature are comparatively cheap, with prices starting at around R450.00. Its worth considering - you'll definitely wish you had if your phone takes a walk.

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Tracking a child

Whether your child is a youngster or a late teen, as a parent you will always want to know that they are safe. When they are not with you or out of communication then this can be a major, an unnecessary, worry.

CellSpy provides parents with the tools to monitor a child's location, movement and activities - both online and in the real-world. Know more about their friends, their relationships, their behaviour and their actions. Read their messages, hear their conversations and control their smartphone usage. Obviously you don't need to use all the features CellSpy has to offer, but you'll wish you had them if the need ever arises. Prices start from R750.00.

Learn about CellSpy

Tracking an employee

There's no doubt that the potential exists in any business for an employee to harm or destroy the company. Whether through theft of company property, fraud, sabotage, or by creating a strained working environment, being disruptive, interfering with co-workers, taking drugs or alcohol, colluding with competitors, leaking company secrets, spreading rumours about the company, and the list goes on.

Keep tabs on where your employees are at all times, know who they communicate with, what they discuss, what information they share, what photographs they take, and more. Protect your business and your livelihood with an easy to use, totally hidden application called CellSpy. We will also advise you on how to ensure that your use of CellSpy is legal and conforms to legislation and regulations concerning employee monitoring.

Learn about CellSpy

Tracking a spouse

The law does not usually entitle a person to track the location of their spouse without the spouse's consent, unless your spouse is threatening suicide or is in danger of some kind. Chat to us if you're not sure about the legalities in your country.

In most countries it is permissible for a parent to monitor a minor child's communications without the consent of the child, and an employer is generally allowed to monitor employees (provided the employees have been given fair notice that they may be monitored and as long as the monitoring is limited to business-related communications as much as reasonably possible).

Chat to us about Spousal Tracking