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CSR touts cheap as chips Bluetooth/GPS

UK-based Bluetooth chip specialist CSR has acquired two location specialists for an initial $75m and is pledging to reduce the cost of its GPS chipset to under $1.

CSR is paying $40m for Sweden’s NordNav, although this figure could rise to $75m if the GPS specialist meets certain performance targets. The second firm named in the deal is UK-based Cambridge Positioning Systems.

Location-based services (LBS), specifically Cell-ID, were once touted as mobile data’s killer app. The technology received a boost in the US post 9/11when the government mandated its use as a matter of personal and national security. Industry commentators and LBS firms expected European regulators to move in the same direction as their US counterparts, but were left waiting.

Cell-ID has not proved itself accurate enough for mobile operators to build a business case around LBS. GPS offers greatly improved accuracy, though so far it has been deemed too expensive and power hungry for all but the absolute top-end terminals. However, affordable in car GPS SatNav systems have raised the technology’s profile and the mobile industry’s current love affair with search and advertising could help put LBS in the spotlight once more.

Michael Bak, MD CSR Denmark spoke to telecoms.com on Tuesday: “We have a software approach. When you combine radio as part of the chips you get a very low cost and the same performance. Our chipset will cost less than $1, for a comparable product it would cost $5. Also, we have less than 50 per cent of the power requirements.”

CSR will apply its own experience in embedding radio technologies into the mobile platform and expects its first autonomous and assisted GPS product offerings that support satellite navigation and other location-based services to be available during H107. Bak told telecoms.com handsets featuring the $1 GPS solution are expected to reach market before the end of the year.

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