By now most of us probably know about AT&Ts NELOS, Verizon’s RTT, and Sprint & US Cellular PCMD reports – but what does T-Mobile have? It’s a fairly new report called TrueCall.
TrueCall reports come from the engineering side of the cellular network and are mostly used to help troubleshoot coverage areas and report back on potential dead spots, all with the intent to oversee and optimize the network. Although not intended for law enforcement, these records still hold some valuable information.
TrueCall reports are very much similar to Verizon’s RTT report, in that they provide a plethora of information about usage events and locations. These reports typically collect data for every usage event, to include technology details (e.g. voice, text, data), resource usage, and call failure information. They can also collect data for incomplete calls (e.g. denied calls and set-up failures), to later be analyzed by a cellular engineer.
T-Mobile is running three networks just like the others: Their 2/2.5G GSM GPRS, 3G UMTS/HSPA, and 4G LTE networks. We have seen TrueCall reports from both their UMTS and LTE networks.
The most useful data in a TrueCall report are the date and time stamp, the cell site used, the sector used, an estimation of the phone’s location (Latitude and longitude), and the distance from the cell site at the time of the usage event. The distance becomes a key piece to visualizing these datasets.
What about tower dumps? Another shortcoming with tower dump search warrant templates is the stale boilerplate language. Try adding Specialized Location Records to your tower dumps, and specifically TrueCall records for T-Mobile, and watch your tower dump investigations blow wide open. Not only will you get the traditional usage events associated with the cell tower, you will now have Specialized Location Records for that activity, possibly placing a handset near your crime scene or area of interest. Be forewarned, requesting Specialized Location Records with a tower dump may increase the overall cost billed to the agency. Always verify cost before proceeding.
We have heard from some agencies that they had trouble obtaining TrueCall reports from T-Mobile. If you end up in that situation, feel free to give us a call – we can guide you in the right direction. If you have the reports and are not sure how to interpret them you can always contact us for assistance. Be sure that you also have Cell Site Lists from T-Mobile along with your TrueCall report. This is unlike normal CDRs where you only have a mediation report. Contact our Support Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not sure of the wording to insert into your search warrant you can always register for our free Support@Hawk website to get up to date legal templates for your CDRs. The cell phone providers will only release the reports if you request them with the correct wording. For example, T-Mobile will only release the TrueCall reports if you specifically ask for “TDOA” or “Timing Advanced Information”. Our legal templates will automatically generate the necessary language in order to obtain the proper records. To register please visit Support@Hawk and register with your LE credentials.