Difference between what's in OpenCelliD and Mozilla Location Service


I came across the Mozilla Location Service here: https://location.services.mozilla.com/

It says it’s built with OpenCelliD, but I’m confused about how the datasets are different.

Related to this question, I’m unclear on how one would use the Mozilla service to identify a device’s location (as the docs indicate it can be used).


Please check this post from Hanno Schlichting

The geolocation process is fairly simple:

  • Devices scan identifiers broadcasted by cells
  • These cells can be queried to OpenCelliD/ MLS API
  • Position of the device can be found by triangulation


This is certainly helpful – thanks! – but I’m asking even more basic questions:

  1. Are the OpenCelliD and MLS datasets the same?

  2. How would I know which cells a third party device is in contact with? (Or to make it even simpler, what is a specific question one might use this dataset to solve? I’m lost on what useful questions for this dataset are.)

  1. No, the datasets are different but there can be a lot of overlapping data
  2. We do not have any type of continuing access to the cell or to devices connected to it. The data merely shows approximate positions of cells. These positions are calculated from tons of ‘measurements’ submitted from individual devices. These submissions are anonymous which means we won’t be able to recognize individual devices sending us this data.


Super helpful.

  1. Is there a clear explanation of somewhere of what’s different about each dataset?

  2. By cells I assume you mean wifi points and telcom towers. If I am correct about that, I’m guessing the main use-case for these datasets is tracking the presence / growth of these types of infrastructure in given areas. Is that correct? If so, is there a column that gives the “cell type” so I can know whether a lat/long refers to a wifi point or telcom tower?

  1. The actual data on cells could be different because the contributors might be different and are sending different measurements. I don’t think there is any documentation anywhere about the differences.
  2. OpenCelliD is cells only - not WiFi points. Actually, that’s a big difference b/w OpenCelliD and MLS.


What are cells exactly?

Telcom towers?


A physical cell tower can have multiple cells on it.


Understood. Thank you.

I don’t see where in the Mozilla data I can differentiate between cells and wifi points: https://mozilla.github.io/ichnaea/import_export.html

Is there something obvious that I’m missing?


MLS doesn’t share WiFi data as a downloadable file. You can access WiFi data via their API


So all of those lat/longs are cell locations that correspond to locations of cell towers?


Approx location of cells, yes.