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Summary:

The next generation of navigation chips for mobile phones may take advantage of Russia’s answer to GPS. Qualcomm, Broadcom and ST-Ericsson are reporteadly building GPS chips with support for Russia’s Glasnoss satellite system, which could improve location tracking inside devices, especially in urban areas.

A GLONASS satellite, courtesy of NASA.

The next generation of navigation chips inside mobile phones could take advantage of Russian satellites orbiting the globe, in addition to the more familiar GPS systems. Qualcomm, Broadcom and ST-Ericsson are building GPS chips with support for Russia’s Glonass satellite system. According to chip analysts at The Linley Group:

A new feature in GPS chips is Glonass support. Glonass is the Russian equivalent of GPS, consisting of a separate set of satellites that are “visible” from around the world. By tuning into both GPS and Glonass satellites at the same time, a GPS chip can get a position fix more quickly and accurately. This approach is most useful in urban canyons, where tall buildings can block line-of-sight reception from satellites.

It’s not entirely clear what’s behind the widescale adoption of Glonass support — although the Russian government now mandates such dual support, which may have forced the issue — but it has the potential to benefit consumers. More accurate location tracking has become enormously important to advertising, services and even public safety on cell phones and other devices. Already, many phones and applications use a combination of GPS and Wi-Fi, such as that offered by Skyhook Wireless, to figure out where a subscriber is at any time.

Still, device makers may not incorporate the Glonass-capable chips into their devices sold outside of Russia, and they may not subscribe to the databases they would need in order to determine where a phone is using the system. Glonass has a storied history going back decades, but the satellite system fell into disrepair. A few years ago, Russia determined it wanted to become a satellite power again and promised to launch worldwide coverage for its Glonass system.

The project has a storied history detailed in this BBC article, which suggests the new Glonass constellation of satellites was a major publicity stunt aimed at fostering the perception that Russia had developed a viable competitor to the U.S.-sponsored GPS system when, in fact, its performance is subpar. But now, almost a year after that article was written, new satellites have launched, and it appears major chip vendors are willing to support Glonass, which means it’s up to device makers and services to launch Russia’s satellites into global prominence.

Image courtesy of NASA.

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  1. Well, guys, Russia has been trying to create a separate techworld to lessen dependence on mainly US technologies and services. Starting to having their own “facebooks” to national payment systems (counter-Visa). Glonass is part of the story. It’s been plagued by performance problems and the Government is forcing the system into the market by administrative and oppressive measures like prohibiting GPS-alone devices from the market. So the chip makers are trying to appease them by including Glonass alongside GPS support.

  2. rockymountaingeo Friday, March 18, 2011

    I’m in the GIS mobile mapping and GPS survey industry, and we have been using dual constellation (Glonass+GPS capable) receivers for a few years now with great success. It is being used in precision agriculture as well. Faster time-to-fix and better accuracy. It’s about time for this to happen for consumer products. If its good enough for the above applications, it’s good enough for my Android Google maps!

    -Alex

  3. Since the Russkies are that incompetent, archaic and inefficient, it would be accurate to presume that any of their military weaponry relying on their GPS will never be getting their targetting spot on. Perhaps they have a very good statistical “Collateral Damage” methodolgy to overcome this deficit. If this is not the case, however, any “Free Western” mass media primate of a “service” ought to be constantly reminded of their failures, deliberate or real, to report facts correctly or not to report when the facts are not at hand – together with the stupidity-dumbness their mesmerised tag-alongs. One could only be duped when one riding on one’s ego-conditionings 25/8. Afterall, stupidity-dumbness is mere telling us what we wanted to hear. On course, that is only the mesmerised vacuum cleaners for their military masters do not make such assumption nor mistake. In fact, they are most probably the ones who are fomenting such imaginations. If true, that tells much about the freedom of the “West”, the freedom to be stupid and dumb. It is self-benevolent to realised that the deprived/shackled do not have the time nor the privilege to be stupid nor dumb. As the Chinese are fond of saying about the stupid and the dumb, “Having too much to eat?”.

    Humans are essentially the same, there being no special race nor nationality. All are as cruel and cunning as can be and like likewise, the opposite. All these bestest, mostest and kommiest nonsense is about division in order to gain ascendency but all these sorts of behaviour will ever realised is aggression and when it comes to aggression, which is merely latent depression, like any other aspect, be it a principle or a concept, there is nothing constructive nor destructive that we could do [un]to others without having done the same to ourself first. Without one single exception – unless one is stupid-cum-dumb – to be illusional-cum-delusional. Humanity is firstly to be collective [and not to be collectivised] and collectivity means to accept that which is evolutionary/benevolent and reject that which is devolutionary – to do one’s true duty, to be[come] truly human and not merely yakking about it. To be moral and not merely moralising nor be moralistic, true morality being innate within all true humans. The moment a human finger-points, he has been owned and all because he tried to own, both being the different faces of the same coin. Do not be “guided” nor be groomed by others, be your own master. News has no real/benevolent purpose when it is not your very self/reality.

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