Cellular service provider Tata Docomo has launched a traffic SMS alert service for its prepaid and postpaid subscribers in Bengaluru.

Features: This service will allow subscribers to choose a start and an end destination and a specific time to receive real time traffic information along the route. According to the company statement, the traffic alerts will also include information like speeds at which the traffic is moving along at different areas in the chosen route, along with road accident and event information.

Pricing: Tata Docomo stated that subscribers can access this service by opting either for a daily pack costing Rs 1.5 per day, or a weekly pack costing Rs 10/week or a monthly pack costing Rs 30/month. However, it is unclear how one can subscribe to this service since there is no mention about it on the company’s official website at the time of writing this article. In addition, it is also not clear whether the service has auto-renewal.

Who’s powering the traffic alerts for Tata Docomo, and how are they collecting the data?

Route Finder

This is Tata Docomo’s second LBS initiative: it had launched an SMS and WAP driven location based service called Route Finder in its 3G circles and Mumbai in June last year. This service offered route directions in the form of SMS on non-WAP enabled devices and a WAP link with text based directions and route plotted on a map on WAP enabled devices. The telco charged users Rs 5 per request which was inclusive of data charges. Besides this, it also offers a real time navigation service, Smart Pilot, which delivers turn by turn route directions on the user’s mobile phone through visual and voice assistance for Rs 10/day.

Other location service offerings from Tata Docomo: Tata Docomo also offers local search services which allows Tata Docomo subscribers to search for places around them through SMS, WAP or through a dedicated app which can be downloaded by sending ‘Search’ to 53333 and a location-based advertising service called ‘Offers Near Me‘, which allowed GSM customers of Tata Docomo to receive deals, offers and discount coupons from retailers, depending on the current location of the customer and offers from individual retailers. It had also signed an exclusive limited period deal with daily deals site Snapdeal, to launch ‘Deal Zone’, allowing Tata DOCOMO GSM subscribers to sign up for SMS alerts to receive product deals and services from various categories like restaurants, spas, electronic goods, fashion accessories, and personal care products for Re 1 per day.

Similar services: Mumbai based Geographical information systems startup BirdsEye also provides traffic updates for Bangalore, Delhi/NCR and Mumbai on webmobile site, SMS and Email, although the SMS functionality is limited to Loop Mobile subscribers in Mumbai. It also powers MapmyIndia’s real time online traffic information service for Delhi NCR, Mumbai and Bangalore.

In May 2012, Microsoft had extended its collaboration with Nokia to integrate Nokia Maps-powered traffic information into Bing Maps so as to offer live traffic information to its users. The service was available in 24 countries including India, UK, US, Canada, France and Germany among others.

In Jan 2012, Nokia owned maps and location service company NAVTEQ had launched its real-time traffic information service, NAVTEQ Traffic Pro in the Indian cities of Delhi and Mumbai, through which the company delivered real-time traffic information including detailed information like traffic speeds on motorways and main and secondary roads, to more than 26 million users in the two cities. Few months later, Nokia had also extended this service to its mobile maps and the Nokia Drive app on its Symbian and Windows Phone smartphones.

Aircel and MapMyIndia had also tied up to launch PocketFinder in April 2011. PocketFinder was a location based service which allowed users to access points of interests like cafes, restaurants and others. The service was priced at Rs 10 per month excluding data charges and is available on USSD, WAP and SMS platforms.