Sunday 5 October 2008

Customer service is the key, Location Based Services will grow

Back in The Day, before the Internet and deregulation the phone companies understood customer service. With the current experience I have with some of other people whom I know I do believe that the customer services ahs gone down.

Let me give you an ugly first-person example. Two years ago, a friend on mine moved from a townhouse into a house, literally "across the street with a similar post code. He had two phone lines to move and his nightmare with the phone company to move phone service started on a Friday and went through the weekend. That weekend was full of promises and excuses to send techs out for "installing" service on a known-good phone line, before he finally got a hold of a supervisor on Monday to turn on the one line - no installer necessary; it would have taken two to three weeks to reschedule, since he had been bumped out of the queue due to no fault of his own. So another TWO WEEKS before he could get the second line up and running. And he still had to pay charges for "installing" the line.

Two years later and nothing has changed in terms of services by these phone and ISP companies.

Customer service matters and it influences existing business and future sales.
This is where most of the mobile companies these days trying to win the battle with the traditional phone companies. I have experiences people moving away from the traditional landlines and ISP’s with the good deal on their mobile with the mobile broadband together with amazing applications to go with the deal. The mantra of being "all about the customer" is definitely the key for the mobile operators and vendors. When it comes to delivering entertainment content and other applications such as GPS etc, the deal with the mobile phone companies definitely fits into the vision of the customers.

In the past few months we have already seen the deals where you can download songs and listen to them on your mobile just like an MP3 player. Continuing into this direction the operators and vendors have started showing signs of flexing their muscles in another interesting area i.e. LBS applications. There is no doubt in my mind that any location based services will have future and it definitely interests the customers.

Companies like Vodafone, O2 and AT&T have already hinted in the direction of launching LBS applications for their customers.

AT&T will launch navigation applications using LBS in first quarter 2008. Location, location, location is the key to win new customers and AT&T Inc went into this direction by announcing the deployment of assisted GPS technology (A-GPS) within its wireless network to enhance existing and planned location-based services (LBS) used with A-GPS capable devices. AT&T deployed assisted GPS technology throughout its network, paving the way for more enhanced location-based services. The carrier, which initially deployed a cell-site triangulation technology to meet the 2006 FCC E-911 requirements, has now added GPS to its technology portfolio.
AT&T also announced recently that it will launch two new navigation applications in the coming weeks, MapQuest Navigator and AAA Mobile navigator. In addition, the operator hinted that it would soon be expanding into other LBS categories including location-enabled social networking and a family-oriented service along with privacy controls.

The above developments clearly is the sign of providing superior navigation tools to the customers and thus giving them more choice.

A-GPS technology gives capable devices a significant jump-start on identifying the user’s initial location. GPS devices search satellites each time they are turned on to determine starting latitude and longitude, a process that previously took as long as several minutes. With A-GPS, the operator’s network speeds up that query by identifying nearby cell sites, helping the device more quickly hone in on the appropriate satellites. Assisted in this way, A-GPS capable devices can identify a user’s initial location in fewer than 20 seconds, delivering greater convenience to customers using LBS.

Continuing in the direction of providing enhance customer services the telecomm companies are now providing new downloadable applications that give its customers more ways to use compatible mobile phones as navigation devices.
I absolutely believe and I think most of you would agree with me that using a mobile phone for navigation is affordable, convenient and intuitive because it eliminates the need for consumers to buy or carry yet another gadget. And unlike traditional navigation devices, which can be hard to transport from car to car or difficult to use while walking or riding a bike, a mobile phone is always on hand or in hand.
Most of the time I have seen people with their car broken down and hence calling for the road side assistance.
The first question which is being asked to the customer is about their current location. With the use of A-GPS through their mobile, customers can now send GPS location directly to a roadside assistance operator.

Applications such as MapQuest Navigator, powered by Telmap, gives customers access to turn-by-turn, voice-guided driving and walking directions, 3-D moving maps, 16 million points of interest from MapQuest’s database, quick route recalculation for missed turns, real-time traffic alerts, gas prices, gas station locations and City’s Best restaurant and venue ratings.
The above services have been highly successful since their rollout, and LBS has ranked among the fastest-growing categories of applications especially for the mobile operators.

Together with the above services customers with the help of navigator can now get the turn-by-turn driving directions, full-color moving maps, a fuel finder feature that lets customers identify the cheapest nearby gas and access to YELLOWPAGES.COM’s database of millions of business locations.

Telecomm companies can see the potential in A-GPS and hence it paves the way for new offers from the operators in the LBS space, which include plans for a family-oriented service and a location-enabled social networking service. Dating and social networking service surely is a bit hit the youths and thus new source of revenue generation.

Future network enhancements will also allow users of non-GPS devices to enjoy location-based services such as local search tools from YELLOWPAGES.COM.

Clearly all the above services sound good but then everything comes at a price. These days’ teenagers having the mobile device with the A-GPS technology can access to some unwanted materials. It is thus very important for the vendors and operators to continue to build out a comprehensive suite of parental and privacy controls. For example, AT&T is developing best-in-class tools to enable parents to manage how their children can share their location. For services sold by AT&T, the tools can be applied on a phone-by-phone and application-by-application basis and will launch alongside the first applications enabling users to share their location with others.

The growth for the A-GPS is very promising which is further supported by MapQuest when it announced the beta launch of MapQuest 4 Mobile, a free, downloadable application that extends capabilities to compatible BlackBerry smartphones. MapQuest 4 Mobile offers users an easy-to-use interface and the same accurate directions and maps they rely on from the site. Local search is also accessible, enabling users to search for businesses by proper name or category. Additionally, MapQuest 4 Mobile provides hybrid imagery, traffic and incident information as well as a GPS "find me" feature which locates a user and tracks the progress to their destination. MapQuest 4 Mobile also utilizes smaller map tiles allowing for faster downloads and quicker screen refresh. Smartphones are growing at a record pace and this an important market segment to address as more users rely on their phones for maps and directions. MapQuest 4 Mobile is a step in that direction for providing next generation services to customers that mirrors the intuitive interface and simplicity. MapQuest 4 Mobile is the latest addition to MapQuest's suite of mobile products which include voice-guided navigation from MapQuest Navigator. The newest mobile product continues MapQuest's on-going mission of providing mobile services that help consumers get to where they need to go, anytime, anywhere. MapQuest 4 Mobile can be downloaded from a mobile browser at For additional information about MapQuest 4 Mobile please visit

It is really exciting to use all these services and I must admit that having them is like a new toy which always keeps you interested.

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