An Experimental Receiver for Positioning by Triangulating on Non-Cooperating Cell Towers

Gennady Y. Poberezhskiy, David E. Lewis, Paul H. Grobert, Paul G. Quinn, William K. Wallace

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: An experimental receiver for positioning by triangulating on non-cooperating cell towers is described in the paper. This receiver utilizes most of the analog and digital hardware of an existing array-based GNSS receiver (but requires a new antenna array and some RF components). It can provide a backup when GNSS navigation is disrupted, or work as a complementary navigation sensor. Most positioning methods using cell towers are cooperative, i.e. cell sites actively assist a registered user who belongs to their network. However, cell towers’ base stations continuously transmit various signals (pilot, broadcast, user data, etc.) that significantly exceed background noise (SNR > 20 dB) in their frequency bands. Therefore, array direction finding allows a receiver to use non-cooperating cell towers transmitting signals of various standards for accurate positioning. Such a receiver is particularly beneficial for low- to medium-altitude (100–2000 m), low- to mediumspeed aerial vehicles. It also can be useful for terrestrial vehicles, especially in rural areas. Hardware calibration and direction finding (DF) algorithms have been implemented and sufficiently refined to demonstrate good positioning accuracy consistent with rms azimuth DF error close to 1° in good propagation conditions. This method can be combined with other positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) methods. Field testing has shown that the receiver can also be used for accurate geolocation of cell towers. A basic concept of receiver operation has been developed. Current and potential issues have been identified, and workarounds and coping strategies have been proposed. Further concept refinements have been suggested.
Published in: Proceedings of the 2019 International Technical Meeting of The Institute of Navigation
January 28 - 31, 2019
Hyatt Regency Reston
Reston, Virginia
Pages: 459 - 470
Cite this article: Poberezhskiy, Gennady Y., Lewis, David E., Grobert, Paul H., Quinn, Paul G., Wallace, William K., "An Experimental Receiver for Positioning by Triangulating on Non-Cooperating Cell Towers," Proceedings of the 2019 International Technical Meeting of The Institute of Navigation, Reston, Virginia, January 2019, pp. 459-470. https://doi.org/10.33012/2019.16704
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