Locating revenues

Demand for wireless location-based services is growing tremendously, but the technologies that allow these services are complex.

Tags: TruePosition (www.trueposition.com)
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Locating revenues
By  Nithyasree Trivikram Published  November 28, 2010

Demand for wireless location-based services is growing tremendously, but the technologies that allow these services are complex. Brian Varano, director of marketing at TruePosition tells Nithyasree Trivikram about how his company is offering wireless location-based services that could offer a new revenue stream for operators.

CommsMEA: Tell me about TruePosition and how its location-based technology works.

Brian Varano: Established in the early 1990s, TruePosition is a provider of wireless location technologies and is a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corporation. It has been about two years since we started our operations in Dubai. We primarily focus on our location-based technology known as U-TDoA (Uplink Time Difference of Arrival). TruePosition solutions are primarily supported by two core products, TruePosition Location Platform (TPLP) and TruePosition Location Intelligent (LOCINT).

U-TDoA determines a mobile phone’s location by comparing the times at which a cell signal reaches multiple Location Measurement Units (LMUs) installed at the operator’s base stations. Accuracy is determined by the network layout and deployment density of LMUs to base transceiver stations.

The location technology involves putting in sensitive software-defined receivers or location measurement units called LMU-Universal, which are installed into the cell towers. This allows us to measure the time it takes for the signal to go from a mobile phone to each of those measurement units, and then, send the timing data off to a server which can then calculate the location of the mobile phone.

The advantages of using U-TDoA is that it is completely network-based, which means any kind of mobile phone can be used without any chipset, software or firmware installed. The phone can also be located in any kind of environment, be it indoors or outdoors in a city. The U-TDoA is a complete wireless location solution that has hardware, software and middleware tuned to the exact level of accuracy and performance you need.

CommsMEA: What are some of the typical applications of this technology?

Brian Varano: Our location determination and intelligence solutions are mainly focused on the safety and national security markets that involve protecting citizens, combating crime, and saving lives.

We have widely deployed our location platform in the US to support the mission-critical E9-1-1 emergency service. Our location platform has been operating in many wireless location networks including two of the largest GSM carriers, AT&T Mobility and T-Mobile USA.

The first application was for location of the emergency calls in the US. Following this, we started getting interest from the ministries of interiors from around the world in two different applications. These mission-critical location-based applications fall under public safety and national security.

In public safety, locating emergency numbers is important due to the speed in response time, the increase in the processing of emergency calls, and best use of the public safety resources. In national security, the applications are used in areas of border security, critical infrastructure protection and law enforcement.

CommsMEA: How do you see the demand for location-based technologies in this region?

Brian Varano: We see many opportunities for location-based technologies in the Middle East. Critical infrastructure protection alone constitutes government buildings, desalination plants, tourist areas, hotels, and airports, amongst others.

The second area that we can look at is real-time tracking, which allows us to look at a target in real-time, for example, a person travelling by car or walking. The third aspect is called geo-fencing, where you can take the invisible barrier of radio frequency energy and place it around any sort of critical infrastructure including government buildings and water facilities.

CommsMEA: Where do the operators fit in though? How can they profit?

Brian Varano: In the case of national security, the U-TDoA will be put into the government’s network infrastructure to handle critical infrastructure or border security. Here, the operator has the ability to create a pay service for dialing 911. So, with a couple of dollars more, they’ll have the peace of mind with the ability to be able to locate people and vehicles. Law enforcement is really embracing this because it goes back to maximising public safety resources.

Mobile network operators are very good in packaging of applications and selling them downstream to subscribers, enterprises and governments. But they are yet to leverage their existing networks by packaging and selling them upstream to government agencies that would pay a premium for it.

Operators are looking for new ways to create revenues. It is definitely very enticing for them, particularly because we are selling to governments. These new revenue streams are in multiple areas such as personal emergency locator systems, a whole lot of criminal justice type of applications like house arrest and criminal transport, high value asset tracking, and stolen vehicle tracking.

Our model doesn’t involve any investment from the telecom’s end. The investment that they have to make is understanding the system. So, we train the operators to look at outages and to manage the systems or sometimes we manage their systems as well.

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