US telcos eye NZ phone tracking tech

Auckland-based Network Technology claims US telcos are about to test its technology to locate the users of cellphones.

Auckland-based Network Technology claims US telcos are about to test its technology to locate the users of cellphones.

The federal US government has required from October 1 that cellphone service companies begin to put in place location identification technology so that emergency services can immediately trace the whereabouts of cellphone users ringing for help (see Federal Communications Commission).

Network Technology claims practical technology for this did not exist until it and partner Auckland-based Celsius Technology produced over five years a cellular-based tracking system.

Nettec technical director Kerry Harris says he is “working with” two US telcos, which he wouldn’t identify, on 911 emergency call system requirements, with testing about to begin shortly.

“The Federal Communications Commission has mandated all cellular networks must be able to locate cellphones to within 125m, 67% of the time. They don’t have the technology, but we do,” he says.

Harris admits tracking systems do exist in the US, but they are either very expensive or need special phones, whereas his system is network-based and cheaper, using ordinary cellphones.

Nettec’s website says its Smart Point cellular location system doesn’t require any additional hardware or independent overlays to the cellular network infrastructure to perform its location process.

A software component is installed in the cellular handset while location-determining software is integrated into a network server, which may be at the telco or separate location service centre. Nettec says Smart Point has been developed on the GSM digital format, but has been “generically developed to be compatible for the main digital cellular formats”.

It says Smart Point technology delivers accuracy results of 50m or better on metropolitan GSM networks, and “even greater accuracy” is predicted for GPRS.

Nettec has had talks with Vodafone and is developing its technology in a tracking device, suitable for keeping tabs on boats, cars, security personnel and prisoners.

It plans to make this device locally in conjunction with West Auckland company Invision.

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