LBS: Win, Win for All

Jan 05, 2012

Source: Voice & Data

LBS: Win, Win for All

In the last one year, India has witnessed a series of blasts-on November 30, 2011 a powerful bomb blast in Imphal injured 3 people; another bomb blast at Jai Hospital in Agra on September 17, 2011 injured at least 15 people; on September 7, 2011 a powerful bomb placed in a briefcase outside the Delhi High Court killed 15 people and injured over 80 people; and on July 13, 2011 terror struck Mumbai when 3 bomb blasts rocked diamond and jewelery-trading districts in Mumbai, leaving 26 people dead and injuring 131 people. In majority of these cases, the bombs were set off using mobile phones, so it's all the more necessary to have the system of location-positioning of mobile phones in the country.

Inundation of Mobile Phones

The number of mobile phones have been increasing regularly; and presently the number of mobile phones is around 900 mn. This number is bound to increase further with the adoption of machine to machine (M2M) technologies and new innovations. The day is not far off when we will have more mobile phones than people in the country.

Location Determination Methods

On the technology side, things are also evolving. For example, one of the most important features is to use the wireless infrastructure of a mobile operator to identify the location of any mobile device. Governments across the world have been using this technology for safeguarding their establishment both from internal as well as external threat. So, what is Location Based Services (LBS)?

The 3GPP standards organization has defined LBS architecture as a method for locating devices connected to a mobile network (2G, 3G, and 4G) in a systematic manner that enables users to enjoy an uniform service experience throughout the network. The architecture enables the deployment of multiple location determination methods for the support of location services.

In order to implement LBS, the Ministry of Communications and IT, Government of India has come out with a new notification on May 31, 2011, which focused on the amendment of the Unified Access Service License (UASL) agreement for security-related concerns for expansion of telecom services in various zones of the country. The notification announced that mobile operators shall provide location details in the license service area as per the timeframe from the date of issue of this amendment and accuracy (see Table). The LBS should be a part of CDR in the form of longitude and latitude, besides the coordinate of cell sites, which is already one of the mandated fields of CDR. The accuracy of location varies with respect to urban, semi-urban & rural, and remote. Depending upon the location of the customer, the accuracy varies from 50 m to 500 m. Initially, the details will be provided for specified mobile numbers; but within 3 years, the location details shall be part of CDR for all mobile calls. All this will help in giving a big boost to security forces, as they can now narrow their area of uncertainty, which will give a big boost to the internal security system in the country.

Technologies Galore

Technologies used by the operators for LBS include Cell ID, enhanced cell ID, LMU, GPS, and A-GPS solutions. Cell ID is the simplest and most common form of location positioning and identifies which cell site or sector is currently serving the mobile device. The accuracy of cell ID location varies with the density of network cell sites deployment. Greater density yields greater accuracy. Enhanced cell ID helps in determining the mobile location based upon timing advanced and network measurement reports on a cell sector. LMU based location technology can be selectively implemented on a strategic basis in specific geographic areas to supplement performance. GPS and A-GPS solutions use measurements of GPS satellite signals to determine mobile locations. These solutions can be implemented only when mobile phones that are equipped with GPS hardware and software to perform key aspects of location positioning.

There are number of network based location positioning techniques, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Even in terms of cost they vary a lot, as some of them are hardware based, software based, or a mix of hardware and software. It is said that no single technique is perfect and can provide consistent results for all environments, so one should opt for a mix-and-match approach for location technologies to get accurate results.

Hardware based solution can provide high accuracy, but it can lead to a considerable cost for a large country like India, as one has to install LMU on each BTS. This is also a logistic nightmare, as it is not possible to do a large rollout that is impractical and unaffordable. So, the country should opt for a software based solution, which is easy to deploy and is cheap.

Multiple Players

In India, there are 4 players that are active on the LBS front-Creativity Software, CommScope, Ericsson, and Polaris Software. While Creativity Software uses predictive matching, Polaris Wireless opts for RF pattern matching, Ericsson uses fingerprinting, whereas CommScope uses multiple technologies.

Creativity Software: It utilizes predictive matching (patent pending) technology called Accuracy+ and supports 3G PP and 3G PP2 standards like GSM, 3G, and CDMA. The solution will support LTE in the future. LBS is a multi-vendor solution, which provides high accuracy and a low total cost of ownership. Speaking about the solution, Denis Maurin, CTO, Creativity Software says, "The solution developed is purely software based and encompasses the 3 layers necessary for a complete solution: The infrastructure layer where the location is calculated based on signal levels or timing information; middleware layer for connection with different mobile network entities; and an application layer covering both commercial and security applications."

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