Learning About Location-Based Services Technology

Which technology do you think holds the most potential for the mobile and wireless industry?

One increasingly important area of the mobile and wireless industry is Location-Based Services (LBS). Most people are familiar with Global Positioning System (GPS) location services, which require a satellite receiver and appropriate client software. Although GPS technology is very accurate, it requires additional hardware and an unobstructed view of the sky from the GPS receiver.

LBS lets you locate (with an accuracy between 1 mile and 5 miles) a user on a carrier wireless network. AT&T Wireless offers Location Services as part of its mMode portal. This feature lets users locate restaurants, points of interest, and friends. I frequently use the Find Friends feature to determine whether colleagues are in the office or on the road. Because of privacy concerns, we had to give permissions to locate one another.

The FCC's Enhanced 911 (E911) regulation is driving the growth of LBS in the United States: The FCC is mandating that wireless carriers must be able to locate users on their network who make a 911 emergency call. Carriers have implemented LBS functionally through Cell Site ID technology, which lets them determine users' locations by looking at the cellular sites to which their phone is actively connected. In 2003, carriers will begin using cellular triangulation technology (using three cellular towers to determine position) to implement E911 Phase II. Cellular triangulation can locate users to within 100'.

LBS and other location-aware consumer and enterprise applications offer huge potential for the mobile and wireless industry. Many carriers will begin offering these solutions in the next few years, making mobility and wireless solutions even more compelling.

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