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Carrier WiFi

Cisco Takes Location Indoors

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is working with Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) to deliver more accurate location data indoors for corporate clients using small cells and Wi-Fi hot spots.

Cisco is using its Mobility Services Advertisement Protocol (MSAP) client as the frontend to triangulate location data from small cells and Wi-Fi so that it can map out the locations of stores and more on different floors inside a building. Qualcomm will build this capability into the next generation of its Snapdragon chips for mobile devices, but Cisco is offering the software to enterprises now.

Traditionally, location services have been the purview of carriers and third-party developers, like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), that pull that data from their networks. Those systems triangulate data from GPS satellites and the operator's cell network to find people and pinpoint outdoor locations. (See Location: It's Creepy, But It's Here.)

Clearly, this doesn't work so well inside since satellites can't get a good grip on your location through brick walls. So, Cisco -- using its Mobility Services Engine -- is now triangulating the distances between indoor Wi-Fi hot spots and tiny small cell base stations to deliver more accurate maps of different locations and even separate floors indoors. (See Cisco’s Big Small-Cell Ambitions.)

"Everyone's focusing on improving coverage and capacity; that's going to be the name of the game for a while," says Kelly Ahuja, SVP of the service provider mobility group of small cell deployments at Cisco. (See Small Cell Service: If 9 Was 6.)

But Cisco is looking ahead to the services that can be built using the additional information that carriers and enterprises can get from these tiny indoor radios. "You need to leverage the assets that are on the ground," suggests Ahuja.

To this end it has worked with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and the Fernbank Museum Of Natural History to develop an interactive guide to the museum that knows which exhibits users have and haven't seen and can suggest specific routes through the building depending on what a user wants to explore.

Soon, Ahuja says users will be able to decide to download applications on their smartphone or tablet with the location client embedded if they want to get coupons when they visit the mall. "Businesses are capitalizing on the bring-your-own-device not just as [an] opportunity for their employees but customers too," he suggests.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:17:29 PM
re: Cisco Takes Location Indoors

These kinds of moves to super-accurate location indoors, could lead to new levels of privacy concerns eventually -- although the Cisco system is opt-in right now. When the tech becomes commonplace, AT&T and other carriers will be able to locate you on a specific floor. Is that data saleable? Available to govt. agencies?

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