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Indoor Trial Results, Next FCC Chief

April 10, 2013  - By

The long awaited results from the independent field trial of indoor wireless location technologies are here. The FCC-chartered Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) tested NextNav, Qualcomm and Polaris. NextNav bested the others.

Speakers from NextNav and Polaris, as well as test adminstrator Technocom, will take part in a GPS World webinar on April 18. Registration is free.

Also, there is a guessing game in town and stakes are high. Who will President Obama nominate to replace FCC Chief Julius Genachowski? Tom Wheeler, popular in the telecom community, has been a front runner, but the tide may be turning against him with some charging that he is too snug with our industry.

Developers will be even more enticed to utilize indoor location now that Apple has signaled its market intents with the purchase of indoor-GPS company WifiSLAM. Safety and security mandates around the world are spurring a wave of telematics offerings by automotive OEMs. For more, read on.

Who Will Be the New FCC Chief? A coalition of public interest groups sent a letter to Obama warning that Wheeler is too close to the industry that he would be regulating. “You can’t have an objective chairman of the FCC that’s got 20 years of his life invested in being the head lobbyist for industry,” Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation said in an interview. In his past life, Wheeler was an industry lobbyist and also served as head of both CTIA and the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

Adding to Wheeler’s woes, 37 Democratic senators have signed a letter supporting FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. Since she already sits on the commission, Rosenworcel would not need Senate confirmation to ascend to the chairmanship. That could be appealing to Obama, who has faced GOP opposition to many of his second-term nominees.

However, it could also put Obama in a sticky spot, as he would have to jump over the FCC senior Democrat, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the daughter of Rep. James Clyburn, a member of the House Democratic leadership who has strong African-American support. Obama has been criticized for low minority leadership appointments in his second term.

Genachowski’s term was a disappointment to people on many sides of the fence, but not the all-out disaster of his predecessor, Kevin Martin. Genachowski will be remember for the introduction of the National Broadband Plan, as well as plans for a complete overhaul of the Universal Service Fund. During his time as chairman, Genachowski took the lead on killing AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. The next FCC chair will need to navigate hefty issues including media ownership, Internet rules, universal and affordable broadband, and locking of phones.

CSRICHow Good Is It Indoors? The FCC chartered CSRIC to test the indoor performance of location systems across urban, suburban and rural areas in the San Francisco Bay Area. TechnoCom, an independent agent, conducted the trial with more than 13,000 test calls placed from different technologies in 75 unique indoor locations. Three vendors submitted technologies for evaluation: Qualcomm, NextNav and Polaris. They were scored for horizontal and vertical accuracy, speed of location, and reliability and consistency of results. NextNav stood out for its performance on height and horizontal accuracy. The full report is available from the FCC.

To hear from the experts involved, tune in to GPS World’s webinar, “Indoor Positioning & Navigation: Results of the FCC’s CSRIC Bay Area Trials,” on Thursday, April 18. Speakers include Khaled Dessouky (Technocom); Ganesh Pattabiraman (NextNav); Norm Shaw (Polaris Wireless); and Greg Turetzky (CSR). Registration is free.

Apple Goes Inside. Apple has acquired indoor-GPS company WifiSLAM, a sign that the indoor mobile location market will be heating up. Apple’s involvement is a significant move that will ignite the developer community to rush to create more innovative apps and solutions based on indoor location. WiFiSlam is a two-year-old start-up that detects a phone user’s indoor location by analyzing the strengths and IDs of Wi-Fi signals in its vicinity. WiFiSlam has been offering the technology to developers for indoor mapping and new types of retail and social networking apps. Retail has been the first adopter of indoor technology.

Interactive Voice Ads Leverage Location. Nuance Communications unveiled Voice Ads, a new mobile ad format that enables consumers to interact directly with ad campaigns by speaking (or perhaps, yelling) into their smartphones. Voice Ads expands on voice and natural language technologies and leverages capabilities like location to deliver ads that prompt the user to ask questions. In a YouTube video, Mike McSherry of Nuance demonstrates a virtual Magic 8-Ball campaign that answers users’ verbal queries to promote a fictional deodorant brand. “Mobile has a monetization challenge,” McSherry told AllThingsD. “By introducing voice you can transcend the small screen size.”

Telematics Boom. The telematics market is about to ride a wave of growth. Vehicle OEMS are rolling out safety telematics in advance of safety and security mandates throughout the world including Europe (eCall, 2015), Russia (ERA GLONASS, 2013) and Brazil (Contran, 2013). ABI predicts that the OEM and aftermarket safety/security telematics vendors will see the number of users rise from 72 million at year-end to more than 300 million in 2018.

GPS Ankle Monitors Not Working. In 2012 the state of California started conducting tests on the GPS ankle devices that monitor more than 4,000 high-risk sex offenders and gang members. Officials discovered that the batteries died early and reported locations were off by as much as three miles. Tampering alerts failed and offenders could cover the devices with foil or use GPS jammers to go undetected. Many of California’s ankle monitors were replaced with devices from a different vendor, but test results of the new system were not made public.

About the Author:

Janice Partyka is principal of JGP Services,, a consulting practice that helps companies with marketing strategy, including investigating new markets, ensuring product roadmaps match market needs, and creating marketing campaigns. Janice develops websites, social media, public relations and overall marketing communication. She also works as an expert witness for the mobile industry and conducts prior art searches for patent cases. Janice has served in leadership capacities in the wireless industry, leading marketing, business development, media and government relations, including serving as vice president of external affairs for TechnoCom Corporation. She briefed the Obama transition team on broadband issues. Janice was a twice-elected member of the board of directors of the E9-1-1 Institute, which supports the work of the U.S. Congressional E9-1-1 Caucus to ensure implementation of wireless E9-1-1, and she was telecom liaison to the Intelligent Transportation Society's World Congress. Janice is a frequent speaker at mobile and location industry events. Her webinars on mobile applications and technologies draw audiences from more than 40 countries. Janice Partyka is also the founder of, a web service that helps college students find the right major that will lead to a satisfying career. Contact: Janice Partyka at, Free subscriptions to Wireless LBS Insider are available at

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