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GPS Smartphones Generating Renewed Momentum for the LBS Infrastructure Industry

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The recent launches of GPS enabled smartphones with touch screen interfaces such as Apple's iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm, the T Mobile G1, Nokia's 5800 XpressMusic, and Sony Ericsson's Xperia X1 are fueling interest in handset based navigation and location based services (LBS) despite the worsening economic climate. In turn this drives both third party LBS application development and the roll out of LBS infrastructure by carriers to support the much needed Secure User Plane Location (SUPL) compliant Assisted GPS functionality.

"Handset technology finally offers the LBS user experience consumers have been waiting for," says ABI Research director Dominique Bonte. "Large touch screen displays are the most natural interface for engaging with map-based LBS applications, as demonstrated by the success of Personal Navigation Devices (PNDs).

While up to now most of the LBS infrastructure market in the US has been driven by E911 requirements, the rollout of commercial LBS offers new opportunities for cellular location technologies such as Enhanced Cell-of-Origin and Uplink-Time Difference of Arrival (U-TDOA) either as assistance or as a fallback option for GPS. These solutions are offered by vendors like Ericsson, TCS, NSN, Andrews, TruePosition, Redknee, Openwave, Polaris Wireless and Autodesk in the form of Mobile Location Centers (MLCs), Position Determining Equipment (PDE) and Location Enabling Servers (LES).

However, several handset manufacturers such as Nokia are providing carrier-independent remotely hosted A-GPS directly to the end user. At the same time GPS is increasingly being complemented by alternative positioning technologies such as Cell-ID and Wi-Fi to increase in-door coverage, providing service providers with ever-greater flexibility to roll out commercial LBS applications.

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