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Location-Based Services Gathering Market Steam

The use of location-based services in the U.S. cellular-phone market is expected to gather momentum very quickly in 2006 among wireless operators.
The use of location-based services in the U.S. cellular-phone market is expected to gather momentum very quickly in 2006 among wireless operators, a research firm said Wednesday.

Until a couple of months ago, only Nextel Communications Inc. offered commercial LBS in the United States, ABI Research said. However, that situation is changing fast, with Sprint Corp. recently introducing an operator-assisted, direction-finding service, and other wireless operators set to join the LBS bandwagon in the near future.

Sprint and Nextel merged last year.

"When it comes to LBS, we've moved quickly from a walking pace to a run," ABI Research analyst Kenneth Hyers said in a statement.

Global positioning system, or GPS, a satellite-based radio navigation system run by the U.S. Department of Defense, is starting to be included in cellular phones that support GSM, WCDMA and CDMA wireless networks used by all the major carriers, Hyers said. GPS is an essential element of LBS.

Location-based services include navigation services, tracking for field service staff and accurate billing for the onsite work they carry out and personal location tracking for employees, family and friends. In regions of the world other than the U.S., particularly Japan and South Korea, LBS has also been used for shopping and entertainment.

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