Understanding Network Data: Trace Data

By October 29, 2020Resources

In the first blog of this series, we studied Call Detail Records (CDR) and their use-cases. This second blog will now look at what Trace Data is and its importance for Mobility Intelligence.

Mobile phones are consistently communicating with the base stations [1] through network signaling to ensure service continuity while subscribers move. This network signaling encompasses all events, throughout the radio network interfaces, between the mobile phone and the corresponding network elements, providing critical Radio Frequency (RF) parameters.

Trace Data records these network signaling messages. Mobile Network Operators (MNO) can activate trace data collection on-demand according to their analysis purposes. Moreover, they can enable the 3GPP-defined maximum detail level cell trace to retrieve the content of all events (according to 3GPP 32.421 [2]).

Since the call traces provides very detailed information, it is possible to comprehensively analyze the network performance. Therefore, call trace plays an essential role in network monitoring, planning, and troubleshooting. Other uses include network optimization of resource usage and quality, RF coverage control and capacity improvement, customer experience management enhancement.

Mobility Intelligence

Trace data is an excellent source for locating a mobile phone user. Based on these radio parameters, geo-positioning algorithms can be applied to calculate the distance and angle between the phones, the connected base stations, and determine a specific subscriber’s location.

As the subscribers are with their mobile phones all the time, their position, origin, destination, and other unique movement patterns can be revealed at any point in time. This mobility intelligence enables numerous use-cases, from solving humanitarian crises to generating business innovations.

Furthermore, Trace Data offers unparalleled subscriber location data. It provides a significant representation of a country’s population because it is sourced by mobile networks, which usually have an extensive and distributed subscriber database. Other key advantages of using trace data are phone Operating System (OS) independence and high reliability.

Trace Data Processing Challenges

The trace collection process requires defining the event types and network elements to monitor. Likewise, the trace files size and the reporting period. Each network technology (2G-5G) and Network Equipment Manufacturer (NEM) has its unique format to record the Trace Data files.

Considering that most mobile networks are multi-technology, and operators often work with more than one NEM, trace collection requires a complex process to ensure consistency in the reports. Furthermore, all messages are recorded in an encoded format, so it is necessary to use a sophisticated system to decode, correlate, and aggregate the enormous volume of events.

Groundhog’s Geo-Engine

Groundhog Technologies has been supporting global mobile network operators with its best-of-breed Geo-Engine and domain expertise. Groundhog’s Geo-Engine is capable of processing all nation-wide network events in 24×7, vendor-and-technology-agnostic. It decodes the events by applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques and mathematical modeling, such as its Chaos Theory proprietary algorithms. This process enables geo-positioning of the collected data, achieving a much higher geolocation accuracy rate than conventional approaches without impacting the network load.


RealMotion™ is a location-centric platform. It leverages the billions of network events geolocated by Groundhog’s Geo-Engine to reveal exclusive mobility insights. The platform permits developing tailored services and applications for vertical markets such as retail, smart transportation, tourism & hospitality, and education.

The benefits of RealMotion™ are not limited to business opportunities. It also helps solve sanitary crises. With the COVID-19 pandemic, RealMotion’s Public Health solution has become indispensable to health authorities in many countries in assessing the pandemic’s impact holistically. RealMotion™ helps save lives with its critical analysis for pandemic management such as Contact Tracing, Subscriber Density, Inbound Traveler Monitoring, Group Gathering, Quarantine Violation, and Lockdown Compliance. (Click here to learn more about it)


Trace data record mobile network events. By leveraging this data in conjunction with the power of Artificial Intelligence, it is possible to track each connected mobile location continuously. RealMotion™ allows precisely geolocating the network events with no impact on network load to deliver actionable mobility intelligence insights that help solve health crises and generate business opportunities.

[1] A base station is a radio receiver/transmitter that serves as the hub of the local wireless network. It is commonly known as Cell Tower.

[2] The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is constituted by several standards organizations that develop mobile telecommunications protocols. The technical specification 3GPP 32.421 corresponds to Trace concepts and requirements.