GSM Location info on LTE E-Series

According to some ublox documentation on the SARA R410M it would seem that the celllocate function is not available in current firmware but will be in future firmware updates? Can anyone verify this?

Has anyone had any luck with any sort of GSM location functionality with the R410M? It would seem the google-maps-device-locator library is unable to pull cell tower info with this module.

Also, has anyone checked out the GNSS functionality? Looking to grab a module from ublox to see if it is doable.

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CellLocate is not supported on the SARA-R410M-02B according to the datasheet. Even if it is supported in a later revision, the u-blox modules are generally not field upgraded because in most cases it requires access to the u-blox USB interface and in any case it requires recertification of the device.

The GSM tower location should work. The google maps integration does not because the R410M requires the AT+UCGED command instead of AT+CGED and the response is different. I haven’t updated the library yet.


Well, I think I was wrong. I’m pretty sure it’s not possible to do cell tower location on LTE (SARA-R410M-02B), the E Series LTE and Boron LTE.

The problem is that the necessary info: MCC, MNC, BSIC, and cell ID can only be retrieved using mode 2 or mode 3 for AT+UCGED. The command reference says the SARA-R4 only supports modes 0 and 5 and indeed querying the device says that it’s true.

     8.125 AT send      12 "AT+UCGED=?\r\n"
     8.136 AT read  +   19 "\r\n+UCGED:  (0,5) \r\n"

Unfortunately, mode 5 only returns the P-CID (E-UTRAN cell Physical Cell ID), not the Lcellid (E-UTRAN CI cell identifier), so it can’t be used for geolocation. And mode 0 doesn’t return anything other than OK.

I could be missing something, but I can’t find a way to get the necessary cell IDs.

And you can’t do CellLocate on the SARA-R410M-02B either, so it’s kind of hard to figure out where it is without GPS, apparently. That’s unfortunate.

Ouch. OK. Thanks Rick.

From the datasheet, it shows the R410 can be updated OTA?


In theory, FOAT could be used to upgrade the modem firmware. However, there are three problems:

  • It’s megabytes in size, far too large to buffer on the E Series/Boron
  • It takes something like a half hour to complete
  • The hardware would need to undergo certification again
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Can you suggest an alternative to calculating approximate position. For my specific application, I do not need GPS level tracking. An approximation is adequate. I remember seeing online there is algorithm which can be used on the device to calculate this approximation, which is basically what Google Maps service was doing. I’m afraid this will require the same information which is not available from LTE/ublox hardware. I’m trying to locate the article. I will post here once I find.

I believe this is the article I was reviewing before. Do you know off the top of your head if the new LTE/u-blox hardware supports CellLocate capability?

CellLocate is not supported on the u-blox SARA-R410M-02-B (E Series LTE or Boron LTE).

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Thanks. Sorry, I read further your responses above and you stated this is the current situation and as now, I am out of luck using these devices unless I add a GPS module.

With some important caveats, you can now get approximate (1 tower) cell tower location on the E Series LTE!

The google-maps-device-locator library 0.0.5 is required. No code changes are required.

The problem is that the u-blox SARA-R410M-02B does not support the AT+CGED command that the SARA-U and SARA-G do, and AT+UCGED does not provide any useful information for geolocation.

I can get the cell identifier (CI) and LAC using the AT+CREG command. Unfortunately I can’t get the operator, MCC, and MNC efficiently.

However, the caveat is that the E Series LTE only works on AT&T in the United States, so it will always be “AT&T”, 310, 410. So you can get your location anywhere in the United States now.

The Boron does not currently work with the cell locator because as of 0.8.0-rc.25 it does not yet support Cellular.command. But when it does, there’s a new google-maps-device-locator method to pass in the operator, MCC, and MNC if you are using a 3rd-party SIM card with the Boron LTE. It’s not ideal, but better than nothing if you know approximately where you are.


@rickkas7 Quick question from you last post on this topic, the Boron can or can’t obtain approximate cell tower location with library version 0.0.5 and 0.8.0-rc.25? I’m able to successfully receive and pass location data when utilizing the project code and an Argon, but receive no location data when attempting with the Boron.

It is not possible to get location data on either Boron (2G/3G or LTE) using 0.8.0-rc.26 or older. The reason is that Cellular.command, necessary to get the tower information, is not supported in those versions on the Boron.

I don’t know what version it will be added in, but it’s a known issue that will be addressed.

Awesome. That’s a pretty good start for me. My application is US based and even if I can only get approximate 1 tower for now, that is good for my situation. I simply need to demonstrate the concept and test the ability to track approximate locations with long battery life.

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Okay, that answers my question, too, since I was also trying to test it out on a Boron. I have an Electron somewhere, that I never even took out of its packaging, but I don’t know what I did with it. I need to locate that sucker – the irony!

Does the google-maps library also do WiFi/IP geolocation? If so, is that supported on Argon?

UPDATE: Found my 3G Electron, updated it to the 0.8.0.rc-11 firmware, and got the google-maps sample app working on it. Now I need to research the low power modes and how I want to use it to generate a map of visited locations…

The necessary Cellular.command for geolocation the Boron is being implemented, but it still needs to go through review and get into a release. But it should be done in weeks, not months.

Note, however, that the same restrictions on the E Series LTE (needing to know the country and carrier) will still apply to the Boron LTE.

The Google Maps device locator does also do Wi-Fi geolocation. It works on the Argon (tested with 0.8.0-rc.27).


@rickkas7 so by using the cereg command I get the followinng output

35.828 AT read + 34 “\r\n+CEREG: 2,1,“4612”,“4E64B11”,8\r\n”

MCC = 310
MNC = 410
LAC = 4E64B11(hex) = 82201361(dec)
CellID = 4612(hex)

I am trying to use to get a location but the above information does not get any results. Do the LAC and CellID need to use dec format?

@rickkas7 just pinging you for the above. thanks