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Operators could build LBS case by flogging user data

Qualcomm’s Retail Solutions subsidiary will be spun off into an independent standalone company

Location based services have been on the operator radar for a decade or more and have been the next big thing for most of that time. Still looking for a opportunity to build an ecosystem around the sector, it’s now been suggested that carriers can sell their anonymised user data to third parties. According to research released this week, that model represents an $11bn opportunity by 2016.

According to a study comissioned by test and measurement firm JDSU and carried out by STL Partners, retail, transport and advertising firms could benefit from anonymised location based data on consumers that mobile operators can provide. The firm claims many tier one operators have publicly stated their intention of providing such location based insight services and are beginning to capture market share.

Dr. Mike Flanagan, CTO of location based services firm Arieso, which was acquired by JDSU in March this year, explained that a retailer such as Harrods could stand to understand more about its customers’ behaviour as a result of using such services to track customer movement around the store and surrounding area. But a commercially viable LBS model has yet to emerge that demonstrates any real scale.

French operator SFR told telecoms.com in October last year that it has found itself providing anonymised location based data to third parties which has helped increase blood donations among its customer base, build better public transport infrastructure in Paris, and even fight crime. The operator used Igloo Geolocator, an LBS solution from software provider Intersec.

“We are not selling our customers’ data, but by selling our studies of anonymous data, we are helping with projects to ease congestion and help build more efficient public transport in Paris,” explained Mathieu Gras, the operator’s head of location based services.

However, with media revelations exposing how certain agencies unlawfully track consumers’ data, concerns have been voiced about data privacy. As a result Flanagan warned that operators can and must collect and analyse location based data in an ethical way.

“We’re working with our customers to make sure they are fully compliant with the directives from regulator bodies, as well as broader consumer sentiment on how this kind of thing should be controlled and how privacy should be respected,” he added.


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