Cell identification codes for tracking mobile users

Zohar Naor, Hanoch Levy, Uri Zwick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The minimization of the wireless cost of tracking mobile users is a crucial issue in wireless networks. Some of the previous strategies addressing this issue leave an open gap, by requiring the use of information that is not generally available to the user (for example, the distance traveled by the user). For this reason, both the implementation of some of these strategies and the performance comparison to existing strategies is not clear. In this work we propose to close this gap by the use of Cell Identification Codes (CIC) for tracking mobile users. Each cell periodically broadcasts a short message which identifies the cell and its orientation relatively to other cells in the network. This information is used by the users to efficiently update their location. We propose several cell identification encoding schemes, which are used to implement different tracking strategies, and analyze the amount of information required by each tracking strategy. One of our major results is that there is no need to transmit a code which is unique for each cell. For example, a 3 bits CIC is sufficient to implement a distance-based tracking strategy in a two-dimensional system. In addition, we propose a combination of timer and movement tracking strategy, based on either a one-bit or a two-bit CIC, depending on system topology and user mobility. An important property of our framework is that the overall performance cost, and hence its comparison to existing methods, is evaluated for each tracking strategy. The CIC-based strategies are shown to outperform the geographic-based method currently used in existing networks, and the timer-based method, over a wide range of parameters. Moreover, this superiority increases as the number of users per cell increases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-84
Number of pages12
JournalWireless Networks
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Mobile
  • PCS
  • User tracking
  • Wireless

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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