HomeInsightsReding leaves location companies wanting more

    Reding leaves location companies wanting more


    We met a GSMA executive with a bit of a sore face today, pained by Vivien Reding´s decision renew her fight with the mobile operators again over roaming.


    But apart from her offended hosts, there was another company with a reason to rue Reding´s choice of subject matter.

    TruePosition executives had been rather hoping she would make more of the need to make 112 the member-state wide single emergency number, with sub-50 metre location accuracy attached to it.

    No such luck though, and Michael Amarosa, senior vice president of public affairs, and Brian Varano, senior market analyst at TruePosition, were left today to emphasise the point that with 500 MEPs publicly signed up in support of such a goal, and background support from Reding, the day is moving closer when public and political pressure will make it unacceptable for mobile operators not to offer 112 services location information.

    Location has been a hot topic at the show, with Nokia and many others talking about geo-tagging, navigation, and context aware content services. You´d think that would be good news for location companies, and to an extent it is. But in most of the proposals so far A-GPS is the proposed technology enabler.

    The problem with GPS, though, is that it can have problems in buildings, and in high rise urban environments – not that that seems to worry the service providers and enablers unduly. Len Lauer, executive vice president at Qualcomm, one company pushing the advantages of GPS from a services point of view, said GPS was "a start".

    Perhaps for consumer services it is, with it being non-essential to have absolute accuracy, and a mobile operator could fall back on another method to add location information to content.

    But Amarosa said that with 30% of emergency calls coming form inside a building, and with many people, especially young people, not having a fixed phone any longer, operators will soon be responding to public pressure to be able to tell emergency services exactly where a 112 call has come from. Amarosa was quick to point out that there will most likely be no EU mandate around 112 location. Instead he thinks political and social pressure will be brought to bear, and operators will be in an uncomfortable position if they are seen as the ones blocking the progress of this technology.

    The problem, as mobile operators see it, is that they have to bear the burden of the cost of installing the technology required to provide quick, accurate location fixes, in all environments. And with GPS not being enough to guarantee that information, that means investment in other, more costly technologies.

    TruePosition´s preferred version is something called U-TDOA (Uplink Time Difference of Arrival), which it says provides the best quality information. Andrew Corporation too provides a variety of technologies, including U-TDOA, within its GeoMetrix system.

    Polaris Wireless has a different technology, called Wireless Location Signatures (WLS) which uses knowledge of network topologies and environements for determining the location of a mobile phone.

    Whatever the commercial and technical decisions made, Amarosa said that there is a clear need to bring all the relevant parties to the table, so there is agreement on the path going forward.

    It´s just a shame, he might think, that Reding didn´t extend that invitation to the operators yesterday.