Wireless Systems Design

Hope Rests On Location-Based Services

The slow economy has sent carriers and manufacturers on a quest for revenue-bearing services. Meanwhile, the government is ordering compliance with Phase II e-911 requirements, and third-generation (3G) services finally seem to be coming into reach. These trends all have converged on the same path. Now, they're sweeping the industry toward location-based services.

A host of partnerships are evolving out of the current need to bring Global Positioning System (GPS) services into Global Systems for Mobile (GSM) and General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) networks. For example, SnapTrack, Inc. (www.snaptrack.com) is working with Alcatel (www.alcatel.com) to provide location-based services. Essentially, SnapTrack's SnapSmart Assisted Global Positioning System (A-GPS) wireless-location server software will now be incorporated into Alcatel's Intelligent Networks products. The goal of the Intelligent Network family is to location-enable GSM networks.

By combining SnapSmart's flexibility with Alcatel's open-architecture design, the companies are hoping to provide the GSM industry with a wireless-location system that's easily integrated, private, dependable, and interface neutral. The two companies will begin by integrating the SnapSmart A-GPS wireless location server software into Alcatel's A-GPS Positioning Server for second-generation (2G) GSM networks. From there, they will have a clear migration path to Service Mobile Location Centers (SMLCs) for 3G.

Alcatel plans to provide leading services by deploying its A-GPS Positioning Server and existing Gateway Mobile Location Center (GMLC) with A-GPS-enabled handsets. The company claims that for wireless operators, this solution provides the most advanced and efficient location-based, mobile-communications services.

In another example of technology sharing, a signed development agreement combines Trimble Navigation Limited's (www.trimble.com) GPS technology with Voxson Limited's (www.voxson.com.au) GSM/GPRS wireless communications modules. By merging their technologies, these two companies plan to offer small, low-powered, location-enabled communications functionality for wireless mobile products. Those products will be marketed to manufacturers of wireless handsets, PDAs, and PocketPCs, as well as makers of vehicle security, asset tracking, and automobile electronics systems.

Specifically, this agreement will see Voxson integrating Trimble's FirstGPS chip set into its V-Power portfolio of GSM/GPRS wireless modules (see figure). The V-Power modules provide voice and data connectivity. They are flexible, low-power, tri-band modules that come in a small form factor at a low price. They also are the first GPRS engine modules to be configurable up to GPRS Class 12.

These two agreements symbolize the beginning of the GSM and GPRS networks' move to include better location-based services. As these new networks gain traction, their new service choices are sure to multiply. Hopefully, their revenue also will grow, inviting new opportunities for manufacturers as well.

TAGS: Mobile Intel
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