Combining cellular and positioning

Paul Boughton

The combination of mobile communications with global positioning and internet-based services is an established industry trend, particularly for resource management systems, automotive navigation, vehicle telematics and consumer products. 

The result is new location-based devices and services that were previously impossible with either technology alone such as smart, self-upgrading navigators, sophisticated vehicle, asset and personal tracking systems.

Different market requirements require more than simply connecting a cellular modem to a positioning device. Capitalising on the combined business of in-house cellular and positioning technologies u-blox provides advanced solutions for many different applications that require wireless connectivity and/or global positioning.

Mobile cell visibility

Satellite positioning does not work everywhere. Especially in buildings, tunnels, etc., signal reception can be poor. To address this, u-blox has developed a cellular positioning technology which utilises base station visibility to determine an approximate position, an important feature for safety (personal tracking), revenue management (road-pricing/tolling) and vehicle/asset tracking systems (stolen vehicle, container recovery).

u-blox’ CellLocate technology, embedded into the LEON, SARA and LISA modem families, capitalises on the ability of cellular signals to penetrate, as well as the unique combination of wireless cell coverage associated with any given location.

In-band modem capability

The latest generation of emergency call systems are activated by vehicle collision. Location data (GPS/GLONASS) must be transmitted over the voice channel, and not GPRS/HSPA or SMS due to their lower prioritisation. This requires data transmission over the voice channel which has highest service priority. 

This ‘in-band modem’ capability must be supported by the modem to fulfill Europe’s eCall and Russia’s ERA-GLONASS systems. SARA, LEON and LISA modules series support e-Call in-band modem capability.

One platform, one layout

World mobile communication usage has settled on 4 network protocols: GSM/GPRS and CDMA2000 1xRTT (2G); UMTS/HSPA and CDMA EV-DO (3G), and LTE (4G).

Often a region will support multiple standards. For equipment manufacturers it is thus advantageous to be able to introduce a single hardware platform that can quickly adapt to different protocols simply by interchanging the modem and upgrading the firmware. This is the case for u‑blox’ LEON, SARA, LISA and TOBY modem series: a single PCB footprint can be designed that adapts to 2G, 3G  and 4G networks. This is referred to as ‘nested design’.

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