Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Mobile GPS: Part 1 – Behind the Rise of Location Services Mobile GPS: Part 1 – Behind the Rise of Location Services

location based services

By Gerry BlackwellSeptember 7, 2005
Page 1 2 NextReal estate, they say, is all about location, location, location. That is quickly becoming true of wireless communications as well.
Technology and market trends and government regulations are all converging to create a new set of capabilities for mobile phone and smartphone users, not to mention a new market for mobile operators and providers of location-based technologies and services.
In this article, the first of a three-part series, we'll look at the movers and shakers driving and technology behind this emerging market.
e911The seeds of the mobile location-based services market were initially sown in the U.S. back in 1996 when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began mandating improved e911 service for mobile phone users. If mobile users dial 911, the federal regulators said, the cellular operator must be able to relay accurate information about the caller's location to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) where the call is received.
Although deadlines for operators to meet FCC e911 requirements have been postponed on more than one occasion, most carriers are now close to complying with Phase II e911 regulations. And while regulated location accuracy isn't quite optimal for some commercial applications, it helps set the stage for the long-anticipated blooming of a location-based industry for the mobile market.
GPS In HandGovernment regulation has been the principal driver, but the slow emergence and adoption of consumer devices that use GPS (Global Positioning System) data broadcast by U.S. military satellites is another key enabler.
Before we continue, here's the short course on how "traditional" GPS works:
A GPS receiver gathers pulsed signals from as many of the two dozen or so GPS satellites orbiting the earth as it can lock in. Using triangulation -- by measuring and comparing the travel time of individual signals -- the receiver calculates its position, and it's accurate to within twenty yards or so.
Handhelds with built-in GPS chipsets—designed primarily for turn-by-turn navigation applications—started to appear a couple of years ago.
Garmin Ltd., MiTAC International Corp. and others have Pocket PC and Palm-based products in this category. Garmin iQUE 3600:First GPS-Enabled PDA
Hewlett-Packard's (HP) hw6500 Pocket PC phone series is a quad-band phone with GPS built in (see Preview: iPAQ hw6515 - HP's Smart New Smartphone Entry). It has been released in Japan and Europe, and will soon bow in the U.S. and Canada as well. iPAQ hw6500
RevenuesAccording to Location-Based Services, a report published by ABI Research earlier this summer, revenues from all location-based services (LBS) in North America—including many not available to handset users—will grow from $420 million in 2005 to over $4 billion in 2010. ABI says that by 2010, 15 million handset owners will be paying for location-based services.
In the Asia-Pacific market, where 10 million handset users already subscribe to LBS, the total number of subscribers by 2010 will top 67 million.
Directionless OperatorsThose forecasts represent radical revisions of the first predictions about the growth of location-based services. "So much of what we thought was going to take off five years ago just didn't happen," admits principal wireless analyst Ken Hyers, author of the recent ABI report. "Everything was in place then, except the operators. The operators just didn't make the move."
For operators, providing positioning information for e911 was an unanticipated cost of doing business that they were in no great hurry to incur. However they choose to meet e911 requirements - and there are two distinct ways of doing it - it was going to cost money.
Furthermore, the technology was not immediately available and, when it was, it sometimes didn't work as advertised. except the operators. The operators just didn't make the move."
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