Location Based Services (LBS) – a pre-bubble technology once touted as the next "killer app" – is poised to make a comeback – albeit without the flash and hype. So-called E112 or E911 legislation – named for the emergency phone numbers – requires the ability to pinpoint the location of a cell phone placing an emergency call in Europe and North America.
According to technology market research firm ABI Research, this legislation, plus commercial success in Asia, is slowly bringing new life to LBS. Stalling adoption of LBS are technical challenges in identifying cell phone callers. Many methods exist, none perfect. Common approaches include using the cellular infrastructure to triangulate a callers’ location, sometimes in conjunction with Global Position System (GPS) satellites but a key limitation of GPS is that the signals do not penetrate buildings and relying solely on the wireless network to triangulate a signal can be costly.
Solutions from companies like SnapTrack and Global Locate provide equipment to combine GPS data with cellular infrastructure data to pinpoint a location.
"While carrier deployments are escalating globally, the real money is in the services," comments Edward Rerisi of ABI Research. "LBS enables a carrier to raise their ARPU [average revenue per user] by offering valueadded location services that will also fuel demand for higher-priced data services. If deployed successfully, it can give a significant boost to the top line."
Total revenue garnered from these services may exceed $3.6 billion by the end of the decade. The largest segment of this will be enterprise services, used to track employees and assets in the field. Navigation, weather and friend/child tracking are among other location based services likely to be adopted by consumers. According to ABI Research, revenue for telematics services, linking a car, truck or trailer to a cellular network, will outpace those for handset-based services. Global telematics revenue will exceed $5 billion by 2009 despite far fewer users than handsetbased LBS.
More information on the LBS market is available from ABI Research in a new report titled "Location Based Service: Analysis of Carrier Spending, Subscribers, Devices and Applications for Handset-based and Telematics Services". The report analyzes the markets for handset-based LBS and telematics, forecasts equipment shipments, A-GPS handset shipments, services revenues, subscribers and deployment spending.