[YS Learn] LBS building blocks: Alternate satellite positioning systems

30th Mar 2013
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Decoding location based services. Image courtesy: enormlabs
Decoding location based services. Image courtesy: enormlabs

This is part of the educational series on the LBS domain. Through this series, we will explore features of Maps and location based services, potential areas and opportunities and companies that operate in the domain. The first few articles will cover the building blocks of LBS.

In the previous post, we briefly discussed what GPS and AGPS systems are.

Since GPS is operated by the US Department of Defense, there have been other attempts to set up alternate global or regional satellite based navigation systems.

  • GLONASS is a satellite navigation system that is operated by the Russian government. It complements and provides an alternate to the US owned GPS system. Today, it is the only alternate navigation system that is fully operational and of comparable performance.

       GLONASS signals can be blended with GPS at the receiver end to achieve stronger position fixes.

GLONASS achieved full global coverage by 2011. To quicken adoption of GLONASS compatible GPS handsets and portable navigation devices, Russia introduced an import duty of any GPS-capable device, unless they supported GLONASS.

Currently, Apple’s iPhone, Nokia’s Lumia series and other GPS capable devices from Samsung and Sony Ericsson support GLONASS along with AGPS satellite navigation systems.

 

  • Galileo is a global navigation satellite system currently being built by the EU. As of October 2012, only 4 satellites have been launched and are operational. The estimated date for the complete system to be operational is 2019.

 


  • China began work on the BeiDou or Compass system to build its own global satellite system. As of date, the system is operational in China, and has planned coverage for Asia-Pacific region by 2012 and global coverage by 2020. As of date, this system seems to be used by Chinese military services and for disaster relief in China. There are no consumer handheld or navigation solutions that use the Compass system for positioning.

India’s GAGAN

  • India’s ISRO (Indian Space and Research Organization) is currently working on a regional navigation satellite system covering the Indian sub-continent, codenamed GAGAN (GPS aided Geo augmented navigation). The first satellite is planned to launch in 2012-2013, with the complete system operational by 2014.
Plans for GAGAN, India's satellite navigation system. Image from: ISRO
Plans for GAGAN, India's satellite navigation system. Image from: ISRO

While India’s GAGAN launch and operation is still some time away, Russia is keen to develop commercial solutions with India using GLONASS as an alternative to GPS. The Indian government inked a deal with Russia that allows Indian defence teams to use GLONASS with military level precision for missile guidance.

On the civilian side, GLONASS is aiming for pilots with BSNL and MTNL to enable them to provide services like traffic management, navigation, surveillance and security products, etc.

In the next post, we will explore cell-tower and WiFi positioning systems.

To read all posts in this series, click on the YS Learn: LBS tag.

Let us know your comments in the section below.

 

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