Sarantel Consumer Survey Reveals Major Opportunities to Commercialise Location Based Services
85% of consumers aware of LBS would either be prepared to pay more for an LBS-equipped handset (34%) or would choose an LBS-enabled handset over one without (50%).
Sarantel, manufacturer of filtering antennas for mobile and wireless devices, announced the results of a global survey that polled consumers on their views, usage and future expectations in relation to location based services on mobile handsets. The findings reveal that major commercial opportunities exist for both handset manufacturers and service providers. An overwhelming majority (85%) of consumers who are aware of LBS would either be prepared to pay more for an LBS-equipped handset (34%) or would choose an LBS-enabled handset over one without (50%). However, manufacturers and service providers need to genuinely deliver services that consumers want and resolve concerns relating to GPS performance, usability and pricing.

Market education emerged as a fundamental issue that the manufacturers and service providers need to address. According to the survey, consumers were unfamiliar with the terms LBS and location based services (36%), but most could name individual services. The survey indicated that today LBS is nearly synonymous with navigation, a well-promoted service that is readily available and easily understood.

Beyond navigation, consumers have identified a wish list of additional services that they would consider adopting: locating nearest services, such as cash points (56%), alerting the emergency services to their location (45%), finding their friends (17%) and being notified of events in their area (15%). Service providers and retailers should note that the least popular choice was receiving promotional information (10%).

Another crucial finding is that overall handset performance is average to poor according to 68% of the respondents who had experience with it. On a scale of 1-5, where 1 is poor and 5 is high, 56% rated 'speed (time to first fix)' at 1 or 2. Urban effectiveness fared marginally better with 51% receiving 1 or 2 ratings.

According to Sarantel's CEO David Wither, Network operators and handset manufacturers need to seriously consider the "implications of marginal performance and the negative impact this can have on consumer uptake. Average 'at best' is not good enough performance to enable a broad range of LBS services which require, robust, reliable and near-perfect positional accuracy to flourish commercially. Consumers have high expectations for performance. If their expectations are met, the sky's the limit."

The Sarantel LBS Pro antenna delivers positional accuracy and performance suitable for hands-free pedestrian navigation, which consumers expect. This accuracy is also fundamental to location based services that will drive mobile operator revenues. The antenna is based on Sarantel's PowerHelix filtering technology and significantly outperforms traditional antenna technologies in the following ways:

* Better performance in urban environments with tall buildings, which typically impede satellite reception. Realistically, most mobile GPS consumers will be using their handsets in these environments.
* Does not lose energy and de-tune when held close to the body. This means that mobile consumers can leave their phone in their pocket while listening to turn-by-turn instructions through their headsets, resulting in a more natural and safe 'hands free' user experience.
* Requires a minimum of 10 per cent less GPS battery power so that consumers can practically use their phone for pedestrian navigation.
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