Polaris Locates Growth Opportunity

Jan 23, 2012

Source: Light Reading India

Polaris Locates Growth Opportunity

With the market for location-based systems set to grow significantly in the next few years, California-based specialist Polaris Wireless believes it has a technology advantage that could help it become the leading location systems supplier to India's mobile operators.

"We are very excited to enter the India market at this time," says Manlio Allegra, CEO and co- founder of Polaris Wireless. "At present we are the only wireless systems provider whose location accuracy is fully compliant with the Department of Telecommunications mandate, [unlike] most of the other competing systems marketed by OEM telecom vendors such as Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) or Nokia Siemens Networks , which are based on Cell ID or variations of Cell ID [technology]," Allegra tells Light Reading India. (See Aircel Enhances LBS With Ericsson.)

In a directive issued in mid-2011, the DoT amended the terms of India's service provider licenses so that, for security reasons, they are required to provide the location of any customer in their licensed areas. That requirement is expected to stimulate strong demand for location solutions: The bonus for service providers is that they can use the same systems to develop new location-based services as part of the VAS (value-added services) offerings.

According to Polaris it is working with local partners to deploy its solutions with India's mobile operators -- the company announced a strategic partnership with CanvasM Technologies Limited in November 2011 -- and hopes to work with India's government agencies to deploy solutions to enable mission-critical applications such as emergency calling and anti-crime surveillance.

"Our solution operates with any telecom infrastructure in India and any device, including the oldest legacy 2G handsets and the most recent 4G devices. Also, because of the software-based approach, the solutions are not sensitive to changes in the network, season, or geography, and are thus able to provide consistent high-accuracy location performance for all wireless devices in the network," claims Allegra, who also claims that the Polaris solution costs a fraction of the hardware-based alternatives.

The company, without disclosing any names, says its system has been deployed in about 14 mobile networks (GSM and UMTS/3G) in the Middle East, Africa and Asia/Pacific and in 24 networks in the U.S., where Verizon Wireless and Cellular One are customers.

Now Allegra is aiming to capture half of India's location-based solutions market by 2014, a share that could deliver significant revenues.

Growth opportunities
According to recent research by Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) , the location based services market in India is expected to grow to be worth US$500 million (INR 25 billion) by 2014. The market is expected to be fuelled by growing adoption of smartphones and 3G data services.

However, to reach to its full potential, India's service providers need to offer competitive data plans and work on technology partnerships to generate the data required for location-based services to be possible.

In addition to consumer services, location-based systems can also be used to provide emergency and security services, such as locating emergency callers and tracking suspected criminals, and for enterprise applications such as asset tracking and machine-to-machine location.

Location technology is in use today in the health industry (tracking Alzheimer's patients and organs for transplant), postal services (delivery vehicle fleet management), and judicial services (bracelet monitoring of criminals). "We expect all these uses and many others to grow in the future," Allegra adds.

To fuel its efforts in India and elsewhere, Polaris Wireless has launched a centre of excellence in Bangalore to support its clients throughout the world and plans to expand those operations, plus add additional facilities in other parts of India, during 2012.


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