Location-Dependent & Value Added Services (vas) for Mobile Communications

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Location-Dependent & Value Added Services (VAS) for Mobile Communications

(Applied to Welcome and Travel Management Applications)


Emerging Technology Manager – Value Added Services

NMG Telecoms

Parc de la Mer Rouge, 20E. rue Salomon Grumbach BP. 2087

F – 68059 MULHOUSE Cedex, France

Tel: +33 (0) 3 89 33 54 71

Fax: +33 (0) 3 89 33 49 39

Email: h.tobiet@nmg.fr

Web: www.nmg.fr

This paper concentrates on services for mobile communications and convergence with the wire-line Internet applications. After a short introduction on the to-day technology status, evolution of mobile networks (2G to 3G) and their influence on future Value Added Services (VAS) are discussed. New technologies for mobile communications, such as WAP protocol, WML mark-up languages and SIM-Toolkits are introduced. VAS will focus on Location-Dependent applications based on real-time SS7 protocol analysis and CDR interpretation. Taking into account these new technologies, VAS presentation will be enhanced by geographical data displayed on the mobile handset (GIS).

Two types of applications are described:

  • Welcome applications based on still existing systems, but enhanced by Location-Dependent techniques,

  • Travel Information systems based on ongoing R&D, in the frame of the European ISCOM project.

A short introduction to VAS

Value Added Services (VAS) are now well established in the mobile services sector helping to grow traffic revenues and profit, providing the users with tangible benefits and opening up new markets. A second generation of Value Added Services is emerging on the horizon as technologies continue to push forward the frontiers and as user requirements become more clearly defined. As knowledge of the mobile user and the mass market becomes more and more important for future revenue growth, new players are moving into the Value Added Services market including: service providers, content providers, retail organisations, and advertisers. This augurs changes in the structure of the mobile industry as the power shifts to those players closest to the users. Value Added Services continue to grow traffic. The Internet is emerging as a driver for messaging and information data applications as it is married with new terminal and software technologies.

Wire-line to wire-less convergence

While mobile telephony is one of the fastest developing industries in the world, its expansion is clearly matched by that of the Internet. The convergence of these two services over the coming years will result in access to vast amounts of information via mobile phones.

These data functions are often used as timesaving methods for scheduling events such as date and location of meetings. Some operators are now offering Fax – Mail services that make it possible to send a fax to a mobile phone number where it is stored in an electronic mailbox. Data services such as these are frequently used as cost-effective means of saving and forwarding specific business messages without the need for conversation or discussion, so reducing unnecessary time spent on the network.
Introduction to SMS: the actual data messaging system on GSM

Short Message Service (SMS) and Location-Dependent Applications hold great revenue promise for those imaginative service and information providers with cleverly targeted marketing strategies. Technology is being harnessed to provide the service providers with the necessary flexibility to deliver innovative and profitable service packages tailored to many types of users. Advanced marketing techniques are now being employed bringing the information and experience necessary for understanding and addressing these different markets. Typical SMS applications include:

  • Database Interaction/Interrogation,

  • Database/Internet queries,

  • Messaging (voice mail, fax mail, unified messaging, SMS, etc.),

  • SMS gateway to support multiple connections,

  • SMS receipts,

  • Email to SMS and back, Email or Fax notification,

  • SMS Alarms for mobile network statistics.

Current SMS-based VAS system architecture

Welcome applications aim to detect foreign visitors entering a mobile domain and providing them with customized and location dependant Value Added Services (VAS). A customer oriented handset user interface adapts the text messages (SMS) according to the roamer’s network of origin. Technical components needed for performing roamers identification and localisation, by observing the signalling traffic on SS7 links, are based on:

  • The “Probe Unit”, realising real-time, non intrusive data collection and CDR reconstruction,

  • At the application level, the “Welcome Management Unit” will have in charge the elaboration of SMS messages and the dialog with existing GSM network equipment (SMS Centre), based on UCP/SMPP protocols.

Some Welcome and extended VAS applications

Various Value Added services can be provided, focusing on real benefits expected by the users, and foreseen return of investment. Some of these applications are listed below:

  • SMS-Welcome-to-Net”: Welcome to foreign roamers entering the domain of a mobile network operator,

  • SMS-Welcome-to-City”: Welcome to foreign visitors entering a geographically limited area shared by different operators,

  • SMS-Welcome-to-Event”: Welcome to foreign visitors registered at a specific event (Conference, exhibition, etc.),

  • SMS-See-You-Soon”: Follow-up of roamers leaving their original network,

  • SMS-Alert”: Alarm notification for maintenance people in sensitive sectors (telecom. installations, energy distribution plants, nuclear zones),

  • SMS-InfoGuide”: request for practical information based on “nomad” activities, such as door-to-door travel information, traffic congestion, weather, etc.

Statistical data can also be made available: improved roamer’s knowledge makes it possible for the network operator to launch selected marketing actions.

SMS Welcome: Keeping a welcome in the Grand Duchy

Located at the crossroads of Europe, Luxembourg is one of the smallest states. Driving through from one side to the other, as thousands of people do every day, if you fail to spot the border posts you could be almost unaware of having traversed the entire country. For P&T Luxembourg this passing traffic, along with the country’s many business visitors and tourists, represents a potentially valuable but largely untapped source of revenue.
Now P&T Luxembourg has come up with a solution that not only brings awareness of the company and its services to Luxembourg’s many transient visitors, but one that mobile operators around the world are keenly interested in emulating. SMS- Welcome is a service that generates a welcoming text message to every visitor entering Luxembourg and registered on P&T Luxembourg’s LuxGSM network.
The GSM standards do not provide any mechanism to particularly address a roamer. SMS-Welcome captures information on the SS7 network, based on data exchanges between the home location register (HLR) and visitor location register (VLR); performed at call initialisation and completion. SMS-Welcome intercepts these exchanges, and generates an SMS message to the roamer. This will be in the visitor’s own language.
SMS-Welcome puts no extra equipment in the network, and the roamer does not need to make a call for the system to detect them. The operator can use the statistics collected to make more detailed profiles of roamers, and by interfacing with the billing system it is possible to know who are users of the network, and which people are likely to pass through without making a call.
A broad view on new technologies

  • Mobile networks evolutions:

Data services in mobile networks are continuously evolving, providing enhanced services to the roamers. GSM development roadmap shows how the evolution from 2G to 3G networks will enable new services:

  • GSM Phase 2 (SMS/MO, SIM application Toolkit, WAP protocols, data/fax services),

  • USSD: Unstructured Supplementary Services Data, ASCII-like,

  • HSCD: High Speed Circuit Switched Data, circuit mode connection up to 57,6kb/s (needs 4 circuit links),

  • GPRS: General Packet Radio Services (data) up to 115kb/s,

  • EDGE: enhanced data rates for GSM evolution (up to 384kb/s),

  • WAP: Wireless Application Protocol, allowing internet compatibility on mobile handsets,

  • UMTS: Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, data oriented, broadband capabilities up to 2mb/s.,

  • WAP protocols, allowing Internet-like facilities on mobile handsets, WML mark-up languages, WAP gives a service development architecture similar to Internet, the cornerstone of WAP is WML, WML is based on XML, a new standard that might replace HTML as a standard for WEB pages on the Internet.

The GSM market accounts for about 1/3 of the smart card industry. This market is developing so fast that mobile phones should become on the short run true multimedia terminals. These development prospects are due for a great part to open SIM cards. Open SIM cards support a JAVA Card virtual machine able to run small applications written in the JAVA programming language. They can bear various applications and guarantee a high level of security. The development of SIM Toolkit applications written in JAVA language.

  • A Smart Card is encapsulated; it has its own processor and memory inside

The only way to communicate with a smart card is through a defined interface, the card allows the implementation of encryption mechanisms as an identification unit for e-commerce; it also allows storage of confidential data.

  • Smart Cards and GSM

All GSM phones include a smart card, implementing the SIM module (SIM = Subscriber Identity Module). The GSM world has standardized a toolkit for application development on the SIM card (STK = SIM Toolkit). Integrating smart cards into WAP opens for WAP browsers communicating with the smart card for payment, security handling, and more.

  • Java Card is a standard for using Java on a smart card.

It provides a platform independent, and compatible with existing standards, allowing multiple applications on one card; applications can be downloaded. The Java Card Virtual Machine (VM) is independent of smart card vendors and therefore allows interfacing with existing smart card OS.

  • Workflow and GIS enhancements:

VAS will integrate Geographic Information Systems dedicated to the management of infrastructure and geospatial data, facilities management, as well as geographic and schematic data.

Applications will take advantage of innovative tools, such as MSDR (Meta Spatial Data Router). MSDR is a Middleware routing to geographically distribute and translate data to native proprietary formats. MSDR federates, synchronizes and serves the different components of the information system.

A new domain for wireless applications: Location-Dependent Services (LDS)

Location-Dependent applications are based on positioning systems and location servers:

  • The positioning systems access the wireless network to identify the current position of the “roamer”,

  • The location server allows access to multiple wireless location technologies, identifies the most accurate location, and correlates network related data to geographic X/Y data. The location server forwards this “X/Y” information to the application (hosted by the operator itself or by an ASP).

Positioning Technologies

The following technologies available for establishing geographical location of a mobile handset can be considered:

  • Cell-ID: Accurate only to the BTS cell area (accuracy from 150m to 30km depending on the BTS coverage), requires access to the HLR and VLR to establish the cell in which the handset is currently located, potentially localisation is available from the MIF field within the SSUTR2 protocol using the prOceSS7 probe. Cell-ID can also be directly accessed on a handset specifically configured (Sim Toolkit application).

  • GPS: Requires extensive hardware and software modifications to both the network and the mobile handset, high level of accuracy with reasonable response times.

  • Wireless Assisted GPS: Requires extensive hardware and software modifications to the handset, high level of accuracy but takes considerable time to determine location.

  • E-OTD (Enhanced Observed Time Difference): Compares signals from a minimum of three different base stations for triangulation, requires software modifications to the handset, requires location Measurement Unit (LMU) in the network, high accuracy and good response time.

  • Time of Arrival (TOA): Compares time of arrival of signals from handsets at a minimum of three different base stations; requires synchronisation of Base Stations, planned availability is end 2000.

  • Angle of Arrival (AOA): Exploits the directions from which the handset signals arrive, planned availability is end 2000.

  • Time Advance (TA): Uses time difference of the arrival of a signal from a handset and the allocated time reference.

Since most of these methods for establishing handset location, which are by no means exhaustive, are dependent upon network and/or handset modifications there would be no perceived benefit to an Operator in using NMG rather than one of the multitude of companies currently competing for any location-based business.

Location Servers

Location servers are software tools that make use of geographic data (GIS) to provide the correlation between network related data and geographic X/Y data.

ISCOM: an innovative R&D project, combining wireless telephony, workflow and GIS innovative solutions:

ISCOM stands for “Information Systems for Combined Mobility Management in Urban and Regional Areas”. ISCOM is a 3-year (2000-2002) R&D project that has been selected by the European Union in the frame of the 5th PCRD.

The overall topic of the ISCOM Project consists in the development and demonstration of public transport services and related mobility services on a digital network and within mobility centres.

Travel service will be enhanced by mobile access facilities to the information centre:

  • In Phase 1 (2000) via SMS messaging (Welcome application),

  • In Phase 2 (2002) via WAP technology, allowing Internet-like access from the mobile handset. In Phase 2 Geographic Information (GIS technology) will be attached to the travel information to facilitate the roamers localisation and guiding services.

On the scientific and technical level, novel data fusion techniques to deal with non-homogeneous schedule and transport related information from various sources would be developed, that fit into a client-server technology. This will be based on open architecture. In the Stuttgart site enhanced congestion management will be integrated into mobility management. At the technological level the project fully complies with the trend to establish generic service platforms that are independent of the underlying heterogeneous infrastructure.

The development, implementation and validation of electronic schedule information across borders will ensure interoperability and will enhance standards developments as EFA trough standards integration. The approach involves the acquisition, archiving, updating and output of data.

The project will contribute to the community’s objectives especially on information society and common transport policy. User friendliness of public transport information will be increased at home or at stop. Different sources of information public transport and related services will be integrated and supplied e.g. by Internet. Citizens will have more comfortable access to mobility information, starting with public transport timetable information, and being enlarged by cross-border and door-to-door information.

Sustainable mobility will be supported by the enlargement and improvement of mobility information and services. This includes services and entities that are complementary to public transport itself: Para-transit services, Park&Ride, Taxi&Ride or Bike&Ride. Also information on public transport itself will be improved, especially for handicapped users in Vienna and Rome. Direct user benefits as access to information, accurateness, reliability and comfort will be assessed by surveys.

The feasibility of successful implementation and demonstration of the mobility information and services is shown along different specific areas:

  • Two metropolitan areas - Rome and Vienna - have been chosen with public transport service typical for European capitals. This includes a rail rapid system, light rails, buses and subways,

  • Two regional areas - the Alsace Region and the Baden-Württemberg Region - have been selected which include public transport for the central city, regional traffic as well as Para-transit,

  • The city of Stuttgart in Baden-Württemberg will additionally improve traffic management functions, especially congestion information.

The areas already partially operate mobility centres that offer a great variety of mobility services. The transport services on the digital network are accessible either by end users directly as an internal service, or by operators staffing the mobility centre including guides on:

  • Information on the local public transport services,

  • Electronic time table information with extension to personal address entry,

  • Information and booking of special services,

  • Online-booking of yearly passes,

  • Box for comments by e-mail,

  • Information and booking of travel services and tourist and leisure time information.

Workflow and database organisation:

  • Compilation of the database in a dialogue-oriented timetable construction and information system by conversion of partial public transport networks into labelled stops, trip attributes, integration of digitised city maps as well as house-coordinates and points of interest, conversion of tools of all participating public transport means, allocation of the fares when based on area structures,

  • Compilation of the database for congestion management in Stuttgart by using digitised urban road network, static and dynamic traffic data as well as short-term forecasts, and administrative support tools for congestion management and detour signing,

  • Collection of timetable-data from the different companies. Input of missing timetable-data if not existing. Harmonisation of the data by transformation in a single format. Building a data-pool for the different sites after the rules of the DELFI-Project, this is called data-integration,

  • Collection of IT-Networks for pedestrians, bicycles and cars if existing. The availability is different in the sites. Collection of maps to present the networks. Definition and description of the transitions-points in the network of public transport. Referencing of all transition-points. Collection of data of obstacles for handicapped people (mobility handicapped),

  • Compilation of the database for congestion management in Stuttgart by using the road network. Referencing of static and dynamic traffic data as well as short-term forecasts. Collection of administrative support tools for congestion management and detour signing,

  • Definition of data amount and data requirements, checking the availability. Define the methods of import for the PT-data, especially for the sites in Rome and Alsace. Decide which maps in what scales will be used. Decision what IT-network data will be used, what are the input formats, what transformations are necessary,

  • Public transport information, railway traffic, tariff associations. Transformation, Harmonisation, Integration of Public Transport data in the different sites, the data-pool for the different sites is filled by importing the data and transformation to an unique format (DIVA the format for the EFA-system). The stops, served by different providers, have to be identified and they must be assigned,

  • Private vehicle-information (P+R, taxi/public transport, bicycle/public transport, pedestrian trails). Definition of the Transition Points, Collection of the data of IT-Networks. In the PT-network the possible transition points have to be identified. Extra data for P+R, B+R (bike and ride), Taxi has to be inputted. The data of the IT-Networks selected has to be transformed to a unique format,

  • Processing and matching of private car data. Geographical Referencing of PT-Data to IT-Data. The stops and the transition regions of the PT data will be matched with the IT-data. With a mathematical catching-algorithm the transition points will be referenced to the IT-Network,

  • Urban road traffic data: Integration of Road-Traffic data (load and forecasts). In addition to the pure static IT-data in Stuttgart, traffic load-data and forecasts will be added to the IT-network. This will influence the computing of the routes, making them dependent of the time of the day and the date of the day,

  • Congestion management data: The databases on road net (static) and traffic load (dynamic or historical data) will be used. Sources of information on construction works, important events etc. will be defined and referenced,

  • Integration of databases: Permanent update of all data during the regular operation. The permanent update of all data is organised by installing procedures that need very few manual actions. Most of the updates should operate automatically in the night hours.

    Data dissemination and user interfaces:

  • Data delivered to the ISCOM information system have to be formatted and stored in a federative database. NMG’s MSDR system includes:

  • Middleware for database modelling and users rights and requests management,

  • DBMS and Spatial Indexer able to integrate any type of database models and data formats.

  • MSDR will be interfaced with EFA, which will fuse the data and offer door-to-door-information via the network media. The platform will offer the print-products also in the internet,

  • The timetable information will be referenced to the street-network GIS (geographical information system). This will enable the system to compute inter-modal itineraries,

  • In addition to the web access, it will provided access to the ISCOM information system through a mobile (GSM) handset; in a first phase via SMS (Short Messaging Service) and in phase 2 using WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) technology,

  • Location-Dependent techniques will locate automatically the roamer in a geographical area, and provide transport information relating to the place where he is: “Where is the nearest bus stop? How long does it take to go from where I am to the Airport? What is the best way to reach my hotel?”


As a conclusion there is no doubt that all these wireless appearing technologies will enhance Welcome and Travel applications, and that the convergence of Internet applications and mobility will facilitate the emergence of very new and innovative services.

Increase in mobile network performance and the use of Location-Dependent and positioning techniques will favour the integration of mobile data with geographical information; this will allow to provide the roamer with “filtered” information, depending on its actual situation and customer profile.

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