Editor's Corner

LBS-making strides; but more push still necessary
Location-based services have quietly morphed from being a stand-alone application to something that is embedded with other services. In fact some experts, such as Joe Astroth, vice president and general manager of Autodesk Location Services, believe that soon LBS will become known as GPS because that's a term that consumers understand and are familiar with.

LBS' transition into a widely used and integrated application was evident at last week's CTIA Wireless 2007 conference in Orlando and was prevalent in yesterday's FierceWireless Webinar that discussed the highlights of last week's CTIA show. Here's a link, to view the archive of this Webinar.  

In the Webinar, Andrew Seybold of Andrew Seybold Inc. said that many new applications incorporating LBS were on display at CTIA, such as direction services, mapping, field force automation and social networking.

CDMA operators like Sprint and Verizon Wireless, of course, have a much larger portfolio of location-based services primarily because these operators selected GPS technology for their E911 services and therefore have embedded GPS chip sets in all of their handsets. That makes it easier for them to deploy LBS services quickly.

GSM operators such as AT&T and T-Mobile USA used alternative E911 technologies and therefore now have to seed the market with handsets that include GPS technology so that they can take advantage of the new LBS applications. AT&T late last month inked a deal with TeleNav to provide the carrier's enterprise subscribers with a hosted, on-demand GPS monitoring solution. AT&T will offer a couple of GPS handsets initially--the BlackBerry 880 and HP iPAQ hw6920--with more devices to come.

While Astroth championed AT&T's progress, Seybold was less positive. He noted that it will still take AT&T a very long time to get GPS technology into enough subscriber handsets to make the technology and applications as prevalent as is necessary for GPS to become a widespread application.

Certainly the GSM operators have an incentive to quickly get GPS embedded in their handsets. As LBS becomes a critical part of many future applications, operators that don't support GPS are going to fall behind the curve and possibly lose out on some critical and compelling consumer applications. -Sue

P.S. We are gearing up for the June 21 FierceWireless WiMAX Strategies event that will be held in conjunction with NxtCOMM in Chicago. We're building on the success that we had last year when we hosted this event at GlobalComm.

WiMAX is certainly a hot topic right now. I've written about it extensively as has my colleague Lynnette Luna in our sister publication, FierceWiFi. This event is your opportunity to hear from high-level executives on the pros and cons of WiMAX. I think I've put together a very compelling agenda. I hope you think so too. To find out more see our website: WiMAX Strategies.

Also: FierceWireless will not be publishing tomorrow because the markets are closed Friday for the holiday weekend. We will be back on our regular schedule on Monday.