TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Question About Historical Cell Site Information

Re: Question About Historical Cell Site Information

Danny Burstein (
Thu, 29 Jun 2006 23:02:03 UTC

In <> Brent Newton
<> writes:

> Hi. I came across your website. I am a criminal defense attorney in
> Houston, Texas, exploring a possible alibi defense for a client whose
> cell phone records show his cell phone being used immediately before
> the alleged bank robbery that the police claim he committed. He says
> he made the call at his mother's house, which is 40 miles away the
> bank he allegedly robbed. I have subpoenaed the historical cell site
> records from the carrier, T-Mobile, but a T-Mobile representative
> claims that they do not keep historical cell site information past 30
> days. Does this seem correct to you? I know other carriers, such as
> Sprint/Nextel, keep such records in their archives for years. Any
> suggestions or information would be greatly appreciated.

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Can anyone offer any suggestions to
> this attorney about cell phone record keeping and how cell towers
> are assigned, etc? And to attorney Newton, good luck in getting your
> client off the hook on this! PAT]

I don't have any direct info on t-mobile, but based on my experience
with handling backups at an ISP and general familiarity, I suspect the
records are still there.

Chances are they aren't on th3 standard service or technical reps
screen, which is designed to answer routine customer queries and only
goes bck a couple of months, but ...

... but, the call records are needed for long term purposes such as
arguing " settlements " (cost sharing) with other telcos, so would be
held pretty much forever. Storage space is cheap...

Now t-mobile only "needs" a small subset of the many fields of data
generated with each call, so it's possible their archive data doesn't
include that code for the cellsite, but getting rid of it, rather than
simply storing everything, is more complicated.

I'd suggest the original poster demand (since there's a subpoena
involved ...) that t-mobile specify when the record was destroyed, and
give a definitve answer about any archives.

Oh, and for good measure ... since we're now hearing publicly about
the NSA's telephone surveillance, perhaps he could drop a demand on
them and their commercial partners, to find out what they have ...

Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
[to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]

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