What can I learn about a GSM base station without doing any decryption ?

Mm Bsd mmbsd1982 at yahoo.com
Thu Oct 8 23:45:23 UTC 2015


I am using a SDR device (a BladeRF) and there is a nice tool called 'kal' that will show me all of my nearby GSM base stations.

In addition to listing base stations and their frequencies, I could also use that frequency info to monitor the beacon channel with gr-scan/airprobe.

So at this point I know:

- base station exists
- I know its frequency
- based on beacon channel assignments, etc., I *sort of* know how busy it is.

But what else can be learned about a particular base station with simply passive observation and no decryption (and no sim card) ?  If all I have is a passive monitor with a SDR, what else can I learn frmo the beacon channel or from the station itself ?

Is it possible to learn things like software version, protocols supported, connectivity to network, or to other base stations ?

My goal is to learn about the GSM networks around me and I wonder how deeply I can understand them with just passive observation of the beacon channel (or other sources of info that can be seen with SDR).

Thank you.

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