VoicenData Bureau
New Update

With the 3G bubble burst in Europe and the accounting fiascoes from telecom

companies world over, the world telecom scenario looks to be in doldrums. In

most cases the reason has been over-expectation from the services and the

subscribers by the service providers. The young history of the wireless telecom

world is riddled with instances of overcapacity and premature harvesting.


India, however still presents a unique case. Operators are looking forward to

a profitable growth oriented future. Indian operators have been cautioned by the

brinkmanship and adventurism of their western counterparts. It is borne out by

cases such as Reliance announcing to lay 60,000 km of OFC but slowing down the

process to that of one of wait and watch. Till now it has put its money into

only 34,000 km of fiber.


need for Indian SPs presently is to prevent the decline of Average Revenue Per

User (ARPU) for voice services by offering basic data and value added data

services. Today’s business environment dictates that knowing the customer

better than the competition is the best competitive advantage a company can

have. Companies need to accelerate the time it takes to convert a new customer

into bottom line profit and then prevent that same customer from moving to

another service.

The Indian mobile networks are also moving towards 2.5G. BPL has GPRS enabled

its networks in 2000 and Bharti claims most of its mobile networks to be GPRS

ready. However, how many customers are willing to shift over to GPRS? The boon

and bane both seem to be data. It does not matter whether the operator is

implementing 2G, 2.5G or 3G networks. The point is, are there enough services

and applications in the Indian wireless operators basket to spur the usage of

these networks. Till now only SMS has been the chief contributor to data



The services paradigm always gets redefined by adding a new dimension — how

to serve the customer better? Location based services (LBS) would offer the

first solution in India. The objective of LBS is to create both tangible and

intangible benefits for the service provider.

LBS enables the mobile service provider to find the geographical location of

the mobile device and provide services based on location information. This was

one service which did not come out of the hat of the innovative mobile service

providers looking for means to differentiate themselves through value added

services (VAS). It was rather caused by the Federal Communications Commission

(FCC) of US ruling, which required the network operators to provide emergency

services by locating the user of the mobile device within an accuracy range of

125 metres. This was to be implemented by the end of 2001. In the EU, it is


In the realm of "sticky" services; LBS would not only help SPs to

increase subscribers but reduce the churn rate also. In India LBS can benefit

both the consumers and network operators. While the consumers will have greater

personal safety, more personalised features and increased communication

convenience, the network operators will address discrete market segments based

on the different service portfolios.


The requirements would be for innovative location technologies seamlessly

merging with GSM, GPRS or WiLL-based mobile communication.


Main application categories for LBS include Emergency and Safety,

Communities and Entertainment, Information and Navigation, Tracking and

Monitoring, and M-Commerce.

Every information requested or pushed will be location relevant.


LBS will also revolutionise customer billing in the wireless industry as

carriers move from flat-rate billing to location-sensitive billing models. For

example busier areas such as city centres’, airports can have different

billing rates than the users home or office. This will be due to the effort the

network operator has to put in areas of congestion compared to low usage areas.

Instead of today’s cumbersome Yellow Pages and bulky telephone directories

we can look forward to Local Business Registries serving as a new, universal

clearinghouse for acquiring, organizing, managing and publishing extremely

accurate, location-based information, about real-world stores and products. They

would provide a one-stop, turnkey solution for businesses to ensure that rich

and timely information about their store locations is available to any

Web-enabled device and other information services.


of revenues


can be three main revenue models:

Payment by the end user

Third party payment- this

would be revenues garnered through ‘advertising’ and will also

include a wide range of sponsorship and transaction share models

A no-payment model. In this

case the SP will provide the services free to end-users. The

benefits would be largely intangible in the form of more customer

loyalty etc. this will be the model which can be applied in the

inchoate stages of service launch to cause users to get to know the

service and the benefits; thus later enticing them into paid use.


to the sensitivity of the user location information operators will

not give it away unless forced to. Thus operators will prefer to

deploy and operate LBS within their own network. If lacking the

expertise for LBS implementation, they would accept outsourced

solutions, using various means to hide the actual user information

from the third party.


the required investments for all high accuracy technologies are

quite high, most Indian operators may use the fairly inexpensive

Cell-ID technology, albeit in an enhanced form (e.g. Enhanced

Cell-Id or Cell-ID + Time of Arrival).


To enable advanced mapping and directions service, door-to-door directions

and interactive maps to their customers such an entity can partner with a

supplier of geographic mapping services. Such solution providers supply the

infrastructure needed to find addresses, determine points of interest along a

route or within a given proximity and calculate efficient routes for consumers

and transport companies.

Security would be of prime importance. Providers of mobile e-business

security can combine with companies into merchandising thus providing advanced

security for wireless location-based shopping solutions, allowing consumers

using wireless devices to securely access merchant information on products and


Location technologies:

The location technology can be both handset- and network-based solutions.

While network based asks for improved handset, the handset centric will need

more sophisticated mobile network infrastructure. Handset centric technology

solutions include those of GPS, Overlay Triangulation technologies and Cell of

Origin information.



Global Positioning System (GPS) is a network of satellites that continuously

transmit coded information, which makes it possible to precisely identify

locations on earth by measuring distance from the satellites. The satellites

transmit very low power radio signals allowing anyone with a GPS receiver to

determine their location on Earth. GPS can be combined with a mobile technology

say, GSM for a LBS that could keep track of any moving or stationary object and

display its location and other attributes on a map. The GPS over the moving

object will calculate the location, speed, date and time information. The

information will get stored on the GSM device and be sent to a control center

through the GSM and decoded. The transmitted information is sent to a mapping

engine that plots the route of the object on a digital street map of the city.

This map is then sent back to the handset for user reference.The accuracy that

can be achieved with GPS is within a few metres.

Cell of Origin

Cell of Origin is a mobile positioning technique for finding a caller’s

cell location. For COO positioning, the location of the base station is

ascertained and considered to be the location of the caller. COO is a variable

and not a very precise locator; depending on the number of base stations in the

search area, accuracy may be as close as within one hundred meters of the target

or as far off as thirty kilometers away. However it does not require any

modifications in the handset or the network, hence it is comparatively cheap to



The Enhanced Observed Time Difference (E-OTD) positioning method, generally

relies upon measuring the time at which signals from the Base Transceiver

Station (BTS) arrive at two geographically dispersed locations — the mobile

phone/station (MS) itself and a fixed measuring point known as the Location

Measurement Unit (LMU) whose location is known. The position of the MS is

determined by comparing the time differences between the two sets of timing

measurements. E-OTD schemes offer greater positioning accuracy than COO, between

50 and 125 meters, but have a slower speed of response and require software

modified handsets.


Time of Arrival

In a similar manner to E-OTD, the difference in time of arrival of a signal

from a mobile device to three BTSs is used to calculate the location.

Functionality is provided by synchronization of the cellular network, using GPS

or atomic clocks at each BTS (which increases costs). This capability is found

in cdmaOne networks, which are synchronized, whereas it is not provided in

asynchronous GSM networks. Problems associated with TOA schemes are that the

accuracy offered might be little better than that of cell of origin in urban

areas, but with a far longer speed of response. No handset modification is


Angle Of Arrival

The most common version of this technique is a complex 4-12 antenna array at

each cell site location. These antenna arrays in principle work together to

determine the angle (relative to the cell site) from which a cellular signal

originated. When several cell sites can each determine their respective angles

of arrival, cellular telephone location can be estimated from the point of

intersection of projected lines drawn out from the cell site at the angle from

which the signal originated. Drawbacks to AOA systems is of adding antenna

arrays to cell sites and that the angular error of the antenna array can

translate into a significant error in lateral distance if the cellular telephone

is far from the cell sites.

Signal Attenuation

This operates on the principle of signal attenuation as the mobile phone

moves towards or away from a base station. Most mobile phone antennae are

omni-directional, so power is dissipated rapidly in all directions. If the

transmitted power of the mobile were known, and the power were measured at

another point, distance could be estimated using one of several propagation


Intelligent Network Solutions

The architecture being adopted today by many network operators is based upon

mobile location center (MLC). The MLC separates the location technology to

locate the device from the application the location information will be put


The wireless positioning technology are similar to satellite-based Global

Positioning Systems (GPS) but with the additional capability of determining

location inside buildings, parking garages and other shielded areas such as

inside a pocket or briefcase that are inaccessible to GPS systems. 


n In October 2000, the world’s

three largest mobile phone manufacturers–Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia -

founded the Location Interoperability Forum (LIF) to achieve the goal of

offering location-based services worldwide on wireless networks and


n In December 2000, leading

members of the wireless location industry have formalized the creation of the

Wireless Location Industry Association (WLIA).

n The European Telecommunications

Standards Institute (ETSI) has ratified three location-fixing schemes: GPS, E-OTD

and TOA.

Players in the location value chain

n Location measurement

technology vendors: These are vendors specializing in location technology who

either license the technology to the SP or sell the positioning information to

the SP or network operator. The SP can also develop the location technology.

n Location server and gateway

vendor: Such vendors develop the softwares to run on standard IT platforms. This

can be marketed as an integrated solution.

n Location application

developers: Applications will be the differentiating factor creating either mass

market or niche market appeal for the SPs. Location application can be combined

with gateway because integration of the gateway software will be required with

the applications.

n Location infrastructure

vendors: If the industry decides to adopt network-based approaches to

positioning the infrastucture vendors will be responsible for implementing the

solution and implementing it with other network equipment. Such vendors will be

Lucent, Motorola.

n Content suppliers: They will be

the people providing personalized content for users as per their locations. They

will have links with various merchants and retail outlets in addition to

location directories and media houses.

Business models for LBS

The introductory nature of LBS market along with a combination of players

will call for a wide range of business models. There can be a combination of

one-time set-up fees, revenue sharing and monthly payments for additional

services such as technical support and upgrades, customer care, etc. On the

subscriber side, operators can experiment with various charging schemes,

including charging per additional time/traffic, charging for premium services

(e.g. per transaction) and a monthly subscription, to name a few.

User Acceptance

A key question is: will subscribers be willing to pay additional fees to

use these services?

In the western world, user acceptance surveys provide different answers,

most of them debatable. General usage figures based on past experience with

other services show that the answer lies in the usability and value services

bring to users.

The key trend in the US at the moment is E-OTD for GSM operators and GPS for

CDMA/TDMA operators. The choice between network and terminal based LDT might

have a big impact on operators LBS business affecting the required investment

and the future control of user data, and therefore the actual use of LBS. LBS

will give SPs the ability to push data to users based on their location and

preferences, in a seamless and inexpensive manner. This is one special

application that could allow Indian mobile operators to differentiate their

service offerings, increase data flow on network, increase network usage and

cash inflow.

Saurav Mitra Symbiosis Institute of Telecom Management