Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Information about neighbour cell towers - can it help in positioning?

One of the features that I planned but did not disclose in the previous announcement was an idea to use available information about neighbour cell towers in positioning algorithms. It's known that such information is used by many companies for coarse location detection and the question was what accuracy can this method afford, and how reliable this information is for a fine-grained location.

Unfortunately, after some tests I must say that information about neighbour cells is not applicable for this task.

First, the list of neighbour GSM and UMTS cells is populated with large distinctions between devices of different manufacturers. Second, the list is quickly updated and often looks truncated, for the sake of resources saving, I suppose. Third, signal levels can change significantly in short time, that I can only suggest as a side-effect of interferences from tight urban radio environment. At last, even if cell information would demonstrate decent consistency, it would require to scan the environment for several most popular mobile providers, which can be a large number.

The bottom-line is that neighbour cells information will not be used in WiFiLine in near future.

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