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The Mobile Generation

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So how many of you chummers out there actually know how your mobile phone works eh? Oh yeah you punch the buttons and your pals pick up but what happens in between? This document is for all you shadowrunners who want to know how to use and abuse your friendly mobile phone services!

The Basics

Mobile phones are essentially signal transmitters and receivers and work using electromagnetic waves in the radio frequency range. When you turn on your mobile phone it sends out a “polling” signal and the closest Mobile Phone Node responds. From this point onward that mobile phone associates itself with that node. When the system was first invented the area converted by each mobile phone node was called a cell, hence cell phone. Your phone periodically sends out polling signals to see if it has moved into another cell. If it has moved it will associate itself with the new node. When you make a phone call, your phone connects to the node, they hand shake (decking slang for connect) and the phone send the number it wants to call to the node. The nodes are connected to the matrix and route the call to the Mobile Phone Service Provider (MPSP) central server which then works out where the person is your trying to call. If the person you’re calling uses a different (MPSP) or a regular MSP (Matrix service provider) for their phone calls the call may have to be routed through other servers. Once it has been determines which cell the target of the call is in the call connection is completed. All phones use a standard MXP (Matrix connection protocols) when transmitting information across the matrix.

Mobile Phone Subscriber Code

Every mobile phone has a Mobile Phone Subscriber Code (similar in idea to a Jack Point ID. This code is unique to the phone and is used by the Nodes to determine the Phones identity. Unscrupulous people may attempt to clone the Subscribe Code, but if the MPSP detects two phones with the same Subscriber Code both are disabled until an investigation is carried out into which one is real.


All phones have a basic (rating 1) broad cast encryption. If they didn’t any hack with a radio receiver could be listening in on your call. Most MPSP offer the ability to upgrade to higher broadcast encryptions. Note that while your end of the call may be encrypted, the other end of the call may not be…

Hacking a call

Deckers may attempt to hack a mobile phone call by hacking into either the Mobile Phone Node or the Mobile Phone Service Providers host and by using the tap com call.

Radio Interception

The radio signals produced by the mobile phone can themselves be intercepted. To do this requires a Signal Locator (or cyberdeck equipped with one) or Remote Control Deck. The signal must then be decrypted using Decryption Software or a Decryption Module.

Locating and Triangulating Phones

The general location of a mobile phone is easy to determine via the node that it is connected to. The radio signals from a mobile phone can also be used to locate its exact location (with in 2 meters) by triangulation. This can be done in two ways. Either by have two or more Signal Locators of by hacking into the MSPS host and using the Triangulation System Operation. Mobile phones are always transmitting even when not in use and so can always be triangulated. The only way to stop this is by turning the phone off.

Phone Jacking

Most mobile phones can communicate directly with other phones and devices by Wireless Protocols (Wi-Fi). This is often used by phone owner to transmit data directly from one device to another e.g. to synchronise there phones address book with their desktop computers address book, or even to act a remote control for house hold appliances. If the phone has this option activated, unscrupulous Deckers may hijack the phone! Hacking a mobile phone is like hacking a host with a Green-3 Rating. Some phones are more secure, but often they aren’t. Some phone models use point to point light optical transitions usually Infrared lasers. This method of data transfer is almost 100% unhackable, almost! Stories about Deckers using mirrors and laser transmitters aimed at the laser port to hijack a device have been heard!

Mobile Phone Services

Mobile phones can perform a huge range of functions now days. Listed here are just some of them.

  • Wi-Fi: The mobile phone can communicate with other Wi-Fi devices such as telecoms, computers, house hold drones and even the microwave!
  • Laser Pt P: Lase point to point communications are a more secure way of transferring information between devices.
  • Cameras: Most phones come as standard with high quality 3D cameras which are capable of full colour high resolution still pictures and video (no one has released a TRID phone yet). Some phones even have multiple cameras, detachable Wi-Fi connected cameras or rotating cameras. Most cameras also have functions such as zoom and low light options.
  • Voice activation: Al but the cheapest phones are fully voice activated. If fact smaller phones are designed to be primarily activated by voice, and are difficult to use with out this (very small buttons!). Some phones even have voice print security so that only the authorised user can issue commands.
  • Data port connections: Al but the cheapest phones have data ports which can be connected to a Data Jack or another electronic device. The Data Jack connection allows people to dial, answer and perform other options via mental DNI commands. People who have subvocalisers or vocal transducer cyberware can also use these items through there data port attached phone.
  • Credsticks: Many phones have a Cred IT port in which the owners Cred Stick can be inserted. This means the persons Cred Stick transactions can be handled through the phone. Buying an item becomes as simple as waving your phone over a sensor. This technology is very secure the transmitions are only over a short range 15-20 cm.
  • Computer Functions: The distinction between phones and computers can be very blurred and some phones such as the Renraku Pocket Secretary range are infact fully functional computers as well as phones.