Hutchison announces location agreements

Hutchison 3G, the greenfield UMTS operator, has announced it will use a platform from British developer Whereonearth for its location-based services. The operator also announced agreements with several other service and technology providers, including Ordanance Survey, Tele Atlas, Ionic and TCS.

Whereonearth’s L-Sphere platform processes location data and facilitates services such as ‘where is my nearest?’, ‘how do I get to?’ and ‘what’s in the surrounding area?’. It will be combined in the UK with detailed information from Ordanance Survey and in the UK and Europe with data provided by Tele Atlas. Whereonearth is working with Telcontar to provide professional services and integration at Hutchison’s network operations centre.

The agreements underline the importance Hutchison is placing on location-based services for its 3G launch. As with many other features of the Hutchison network, they will be tested in the UK before being rolled out to other Hutchison territories.

Colin Tucker, managing director of Hutchison 3G commented: “We are creating a service that knows where you are, what you want and how you want it – and puts it in the palm of your hand. Over time this will become an absolutely indispensable component of daily life for all of us. The scale and scope of technical integration taking place behind the scenes is unprecedented in the industry. We are delighted to be working with the leading providers in this area to develop these unique and exciting services for 3’s customers.”

Dev Patel, COO of Whereonearth, said: “I am delighted to be working with Hutchison 3G and Telcontar to help shape the future of high-speed wireless services. Our experience in providing high performance internet based LBS solutions has helped us to deliver an innovative and robust LBS capability to Hutchison 3G. I am delighted that we have successfully won this business and I am excited about the location based services that Hutchison 3G are planning with our software in this new world of 3G wireless.”


The scale of Hutchison’s 3G launch preparations is becoming clear. It has already announced agreements with some 40 content providers, ranging from the BBC to the Premier League (the UK’s leading soccer league for our US members). In addition, it has sourced technology from companies such as NCorp (intelligent searching using neural networking techniques) and has handset agreements with Motorola and NEC.

The level of expectation couldn’t be higher. If it is to avoid the criticism of a British press intent on naysaying over 3G services, it needs to ensure the launch is faultless and the service offering exceptional. Advanced location-based services, something no UK operator has yet achieved, are one way in which it can surpass expectations.

The combination of data from Ordanance Survey, which maps over 400m points on the British Isles, and Tele Atlas, which holds 30,000 street maps across Europe, will provide an unprecedented level of detail for location-based services. Hence the requirement for a robust and proven platform from Whereonearth.

This is Whereonearth’s first engagement in the mobile space, but it has been providing location-based technology to traditional web-sites for some time. Its L-Sphere platform can be used on a global basis, a major factor in Hutchison’s selection, and supports multiple types of geography and transport modes.

There is, however, a question over how many of these impressive services will be available when customers roam outside Hutchison’s initial 3G coverage areas and onto O2’s network. Whereonearth’s platform supports 2G and 2.5G infrastructure, but Hutchison is remaining tight-lipped ahead of the launch.

Originally published by PMN Mobile Industry Intelligence, the subscription-based analysis and insight platform founded by Marek Pawlowski.

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