How is the IMEI number used to track the location of a device?
Question by Sudhanshu Pant /

I have been searching for technology behind how IMEI number can be utilized to get the location of a particular device. All I have gotten so far is some websites where we can enter our phone/IMEI numbers and get the locations etc.

But I want to know the actual technology that works behind all these things. Like how service providers locate the device and the technology and algorithms they use?


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Answers (7)
  • Ronald Van Heerden

    My blackberry 9810 torch was stolen out of my pock last Friday night at a social club and was not insured,i really do not have money for a new phone,pls what can i do to get it back,i’m so hopeless without it,pls help.

    • ha14

      you have to call your operator, if you know your IMEI then give it to them so that to block the usage of sim card or to track it if the new owner use it with sim card. The local operators have an Equipment Identity Register(EIR) server. The operator would register the IMEI no. of your lost device on EIR and would communicate it to the central server Central Equipment Identity Register(CEIR).
      Go to Police and Fill FIR (First Information Report) so that your phone cannot be used for bad activities.

      Did you install anti-theft software like BlackBerry Protect before your blackberry has been stolen?

      if you had installed dropbox and was set to autosync perhaps you can find IP address.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks a lot. Things are more clearer now.
    Just one more thing. Can the actual geographical cordinates be tracked with this, like the latitude and longitude axis?

    • ha14

      the triangulation technology can point the location. The first tower judges the distance to the caller, distance from the second tower narrow the distance and the third tower pinpoints the location.

      by using a GPS locator instead of the IMEI, the phone can be more accurately traced.

  • ha14

    Each Mobile has unique IMEI it is like idendity card and gives many information like origin, model, and serial number…

    you cannot trace the physical location of a phone itself with just it’s IMEI number, your cell provider can use the IMEI number to bring up the cellular phone number that it’s linked to. If any person use the lost mobile use in any network your company check the data with all the service providers.

    whenever phone is used the mobile phone sends a link signal to its nearest mobile tower (or BTS device) this packet of signal sent by phone to tower is marked with IMEI number in it. This IMEI number reach the tower and from there to the mobile operator or owner of the tower. Department of Telecommunication can demand it so the mobile can be traced just by IMEI in it even without SIM card…once you plug sim card into a phone and power it on, the IMEI number of the phone and the SIM’s serial number will be transmitted to the nearest cell tower(s).

    if the IMEI number is in blacklist, the mobile can not use the mobile service.

    • Bruce Epper

      Uh… You contradicted yourself in this one. Paragraph 2 states “you cannot trace the physical location of a phone itself with just it’s IMEI number” and then in paragraph 3: “the mobile can be traced just by IMEI”. It really should be just one or the other (the latter, actually). Also, the link signal is not sent to its nearest mobile tower, is is simply broadcast and in most locations it will be picked up by multiple towers. The relative strength of the signal at all receiving towers can be used to triangulate the phones location, but it was designed to allow handoff from tower to tower as the phone is moving through their respective zones without dropping the call.

    • ha14

      yap you are right:) where was my mind while typing:):) thanks for the correction.

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