Location-based services, which were first introduced by some VoIP service providers as a way to comply with E911 regulations in the United States, have taken off and proven to be an effective way for operators to monetize their networks.
A brief history of E911
The 911 system in the United States was first established as a way for subscribers to quickly contact authorities. The system, which did not initially provide recipients with information about callers, was expanded to include this information to provide emergency responders with data about callers' locations and identification.
A mandate for Enhanced 911 (E911) regulations prompted VoIP providers to develop methods for acquiring that information so that it could be relayed to emergency responders. They discovered that by capturing signal strength on mobile networks through methods such as cell identification, angle of arrival, time of arrival, uplink-time difference of arrival (U-TDOA) or wireless location signatures, they could identify the location of subscribers' handsets within a certain distance.
Location-based services today
However, the systems that were designed to determine users' locations have been developed further since the implementation of E911. The rise of mobile devices has led to a surge in the applications that use information about subscribers' locations. From platforms that tell users about nearby restaurants to applications that deliver brands' promotional offers to customers passing by, the mobile market has created vast demand for data about subscribers' locations.
Today, there is more to location-based services than ever before, according to TMCnet. Service providers now tap the information they gather about customers' locations to manage their networks, calculate billing, support productivity-enhancing programs and enforce policies.
"If you have sold a service to a customer [that] is based on certain capacity or bandwidth, and as a customer moves around he goes into one cell that is not congested and then goes on to another cell that is congested, you may want to manage that service in a special way," Akil Chomoko, product marketing manager at Volubill, told the media outlet.
Having the ability to deliver information based on individuals' locations could become a differentiator in the fixed and wireless VoIP networks in the future, editor Michael Dinan wrote in a separate article for the source.
Service providers that want to capture this data must face the challenge of doing so without compromising their abilities to support uninterrupted connections for other subscribers. Fortunately, VoIP equipment providers like TelcoBridges have anticipated these challenges and developed network monitoring solutions that can safely deliver this information over carrier-grade technology.