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Mobile phone tracking refers to the attaining of the current position of a mobile phone, stationary or moving. Localization may occur either via multilateration of radio signals between (several) radio towers of the network and the phone, or simply via GPS. To locate the phone using multilateration of radio signals, it must emit at least the roaming signal to contact the next nearby antenna tower, but the process does not require an active call.


The technology of locating is based on measuring power levels and antenna patterns and uses the concept that a powered mobile phone always communicates wirelessly with one of the closest base stations, so knowledge of the location of the base station implies the cell phone location.
Source: Wikipedia