Location Based Service

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Location based service is a technology which utilizes the ability of a mobile device to track its own location to provide information and entertainment services. They give people the ability to share where they are with friends and with businesses around them. Some of the most popular examples of location based services are finding out the nearest business or service such as a restaurant or theatre and driving directions and traffic updates. Other examples include personalised weather forecasts based on one?s location, or the ability to play mobile games against people in one?s locality. A typical technology configuration of location based services would look like

An LBS requires five basic components
1. Service provider?s software application
2. Mobile network to transmit data and requests for service
3. Content provider to supply the subscriber with location specific information
4. A positioning component, most likely a GPS
5. Subscriber?s mobile device

????????????? In this age of significant telecommunications competition, mobile network operators continuously seek new and innovative ways to create differentiation and increase profits. One of the best ways to do accomplish this is through the delivery of highly personalized services. One of the most powerful ways to personalize mobile services is based on location. Faced with an increasingly difficult challenge in growing? the numbers of subscribers, wireless carriers and their partners are developing a host of new products, services, and business models based on data services. Location services, which provide information specific to a location, are a key part of ?this portfolio.

?????????????? A location-based service (LBS) is an information and entertainment service, accessible with mobile devices through the mobile network and utilizing the ability to make use of the geographical position of the mobile device. Such services include navigation assistance, identification in case of emergency or disaster relief, social networking through finding friends, map assistance through locating points of interest etc. Provision of LBS requires the correct positioning technology, a geographical information system that maps the areas and a conducive environment in the complex eco-system that the mobile industry operates in. Despite being around for more than a decade, LBS was not successful in the past due to various reasons such as inadequate positioning technology, lack of standards and barriers to interoperability amongst operators and networks, infrastructure constraints such as lack of GPS enabled handsets etc., inappropriate business models that did not support LBS provision etc. However in recent times, there has been a breakthrough and location is now considered native to the business model of operators. The creativity of content providers and application developers comes into play once the core elements are in place viz. location built into handsets, standardized open platforms, infrastructure of network and viable business models. It is only recently that these enablers have become operational across the world and LBS has now taken center stage in mobile applications - in Q2 2007, LBS epresented 51 percent of the revenue from downloadable applications in the US.
In India, LBS provision is at a very nascent stage. Given the conducive environment around the globe, and 8 million subscribers being added on every month in India, the LBS wave cannot fail to envelop the country. However, country characteristics are different and a successful LBS strategy would need to address the needs of the rural masses, with low income and high illiteracy. Once it implemented it can provide weather alerts to fishermen on the high seas, using interactive voice response technology to give LBS services to the illiterate, fleet and mobile workforce management for small enterprises etc.

????????????? The concept of location based systems is not compliant with the standardized concept of real time locating systems and related local services (RTLS),.Though there are technological and infrastructure constraints currently holding back the growth of the LBS provision, these are likely to get resolved in due course of time, given the moves in the international arena. But the concern in the Indian context is that the mobile industry market structure as determined through policy and regulation has not favored the growth of competition and innovation in value added services such as LBS.

????????????? The issue to face going ahead is how to aim for universal coverage and maximum competition in the mobile industry that will unleash the forces of creativity in providing solutions. This calls for a move towards a model of regulation that focuses on managing, rather than on limiting competition. LBS has the capability to grow into a powerful tool in the hands of the common man and it is this vision that should guide the industry and the policy makers.

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