Have you ever noticed how every geographic region has a claim to fame, like “We have the largest lake in the world.”, but when you scratch below the surface there’s a pile of qualifications, “if you only count navigable, freshwater lakes, over 6000ft altitude with human habitation on the shores.” Well, the headline above strikes me as one of those. The truth is Bell mobility has just launched consumer LBS using an in-phone GPS solution provided by Qualcomm. But Bell Mobility is only first if you neglect the LBS of AT&T Wireless (using less accurate ‘nearest tower’ sytems), and Nextel’s suite of applications that have been around for over five years, but target more business users with an external or built-in GPS. Notwithstanding the over-reaching claims (cough…lies) of the marketing spinsters, the Bell Mobility launch is significant because it is the first carrier to offer a platform for content developers to access the customer’s precise location (with permission) in order to enhance the content or application. While US carriers have these phones in the market in order to meet E911 requirements (Sprint PCS has shipped 15 million A-GPS phones), they have yet to open their platforms for consumer apps. The priority in the US has been E911, downloadable apps, and LNP. Now that those are out of the way, expect Sprint PCS and Verizon to offer consumer LBS early in 2004 using A-GPS, and the GSM carriers (using TDOA in the network) to be at least a year behind.

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