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Indian Government Asks Telecom Operators To Sharpen Location Awareness; LBS

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The Indian Government has asked Indian telecom operators to sharpen their location awareness; in a notification dated 26th October 2009, the Department of Telecom has conveyed its decision that Location Based Service be implemented in India, with a location accuracy of less than 100 metres, to be gradually improved to 50 metres. Sources inform us that a reminder notice was sent to telecom operators a few weeks ago.

The notification, a copy of which is with MediaNama, seeks a service-area-wise time-frame for implementing this, with priority being given to “the States of Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal and the North-East Service Area”.

A few points to note here:

— Network Capability: Such level of accuracy may be possible in cities, which have a high density deployment of cellular towers. However, telecom operator sources we spoke to suggest that it’s virtually impossible. Given the sparse deployment of cellular towers outside main cities, one can only expect an accuracy of a radius of 500 meters. Additionally, some older telecom networks may not even be in a position to support this.
— National Security Vs Privacy: From the states deemed to be a priority for implementation, it appears that the objective is to be able to accurately track “anti-national” elements. However, with the implementation of the Unique ID, particularly when linked to a cell phone number, such a system may be prone to misuse; the Government and telecom operators able to accurately track the movements of any individual; a case of big brother watching. As with call intercepts, we think there needs to be a legal sanction routed through the judiciary for such a move.
— Location Based Services: Amidst issues of national security and privacy, one should keep in mind that if implemented, the telecom networks will be location aware and accurate: thus a platform will be available for launching targeted location based services. So far, BSNL and Airtel have launched location aware products.


Related, from our Location Based Services segment:

— MapMyIndia And Alteryx To Launch Freedemographicsindia.com
Google Maps Gets Delhi Metro Transit Info; Buses The Real Test
Driving Directions: Google, Sygic-MapMyIndia, SatNav-Nokia
– Airtel Pilots Location Based Buddy Finder Service; Review & Suggestions
– On Integration Of Maps With Social Networks, Events, News & More
– LBS Co Imere Sells Minority Stake To Rediff; Buddy Finder App Ohe!
– BIGMaps Launched On Reliance GSM; Why RCOM? Friend Finder, PointnFind?

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  • interesting ,
    since you have access to notification can you clarify if DOT have asked for an openended timeline from Telco for developing these capabilities or they have assigned a Time limit/Deadline by which Telco would HAVE to introduce these capabilities .

    This is a question of capex for operators . since Capex required to deploy such location enabling infrastructure is huge and since there is no precedence of any LBS service gaining mainstream traction in India so ROI is not clear and assured . They have good reason to shy away from this. However this can change if these location enabling infrastructure is deployed, not as an CAP ex deal but on revenue share basis . than there will be incentive for everyone to comeup with coll new LBS app. I hope new operators are doing just that .

  • Prashant, the document asks for a timeline by which they can achieve such accuracy, and as of now there is no deadline for deployment specified. I think the government wants to get a sense of operator timelines before setting a deadline. Remember MNP…deadline, after deadline, after deadline.

  • Reminds me, what is happening of number portability. For Indian mobile consumers 3G and Number portability have become beerbal ki khichdi.
    BTW why is government of india interested in LBS, now? Some "Consumer Benefit" of national importance with it ?

  • Divya

    Could you please share a copy of the notification or send me a copy by e-mail?