Most of us are familiar with smart-phone client-based mapping applications, which allow you to use your mapping application on your smartphone to find a nearby business or get directions. Network-based location on the other hand is not as well known. Network-based location using cellular networks has been around a couple of years now, using tier one domestic and international carriers to derive cellular devices  location (feature and smartphones) without the need for a client using the serving cell-ID or A-GPS data for 3G devices.

Typically network-based location is used by businesses to locate multiple consumers on an individual or aggregate basis. For example several road-side assistance providers are seeking to locate stranded motorists, and retailers are using the technology to send messages to multiple loyalty customers within a given proximity. Location use cases span many verticals given the ubiquitous value of location-based data (context, consumer profiling, etc). But before you get started there are three steps to prepare your enterprise to take advantage of network-based location.

1. Choose your location technology

The first decision businesses must make is whether to use A-GPS or Cell ID to determine user location. A-GPS can provide an enterprise a more accurate location (approximately 30 meters) but it can take up to 30 seconds to secure a location given the need to interact with the cellular device, while Cell ID can provide a much quicker location (couple of seconds) but provides a rough order of magnitude as to the device’s location. Cell-ID location accuracy is variable since cell tower density is a lot higher in metropolitan areas than rural areas, but for a lot of location use cases this is sufficient.

2. Integrate your system

Once you’ve decided whether to use approximate location (Cell ID) or precise location (A-GPS), or best available your system would make an API call to AT&T Location Information Services (LIS) to obtain a location result.

Businesses typically use location APIs (such as REST or SOAP) to interact with the location platform which is able to deliver the device’s location for multiple US and Canadian cellular networks. The location request provides a method to retrieve location details such as latitude/longitude, street address, nearby intersection, cross street and point of interest (POI) for the given telephone number. Extensive information on integrating with our location APIs can be found here.

3. Submit your location request

Although it only takes a few seconds, there are several steps between your location request and our delivery of location information.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Your enterprise submits a location API call to your LIS provider including mobile subscriber telephone number (including confirmation that end user consent has been obtained)

Step 2: Your LIS provider validates enterprise making location request has previously received universal location use case approval from the wireless carriers associated with LIS

Step 3: Your LIS provider identifies which wireless carrier the individual mobile subscriber is affiliated with (enterprise request could include multiple mobile subscribers)

Step 4: Your LIS provider submits the location request to the relevant wireless carrier.

Step 5: Individual wireless carrier replies the location of requested mobile device

Step 6: Your LIS provider returns location information for identified mobile device to enterprise via Your LIS provider.

While it’s still somewhat new to the tech scene, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) projects location-based services will deliver $700B in value to consumers and business over the next decade, with LBS associated revenues tripling over the next 5 years.

The $700 billion figure comes as no surprise; network-based location offers enormous opportunities to have location contextual interactions with your consumers, optimize mobile worker performance, or enhance your business’ big data analytical capabilities. Is your business ready to capitalize?
For more information feel free to visit att.com/locationbasedservices.