Location-technology vendor Rosum announced that independent test results indicate that the company's hybrid positioning technology, which combines television and global positioning system (GPS) signals, complies with the FCC's Phase II E911 specifications for handset-based solution — even in indoor settings.

Current FCC guidelines require that wireless E911 solutions provide public-safety answering points (PSAPs) with automatic-location data on the caller that is accurate within 50 meters 67% of the time — and within 150 meters 95% of the time — for handset-based solutions like GPS.

Rosum met this standard in each of five tests conducted with PSAPs in Nashua, N.H.; Needham, Mass.; Washington, D.C.; Edison, N.J.; and Santa Clara, Calif., said Jon Metzler, director of business development for Rosum.

Typically, GPS-based solutions are effective in rural settings, where the GPS satellite has an unobstructed view of the caller. But the technology has not performed as effectively in dense urban settings. Network-based solutions that use triangulation tend to provide better location information in urban areas but are not as effective in rural areas with few cell sites.

With its solution that combines TV and GPS measurements, Rosum not only met the FCC benchmark at the PSAP level, something the commission has indicated will be a future requirement for cellular and nomadic VoIP services, but it accomplished this despite the fact that 50% of calls in the test were made from inside buildings instead of the 5% that is the industry standard, Metzler said.

“What we were trying to achieve here was to show that urban-area, in-building solutions that improve on incumbent solutions are available, and conversely show that solutions can improve performance seen in the network-based solutions currently deployed in rural areas,” he said.

Heavy testing of indoor calls was pursued because more consumers are using mobile devices as their primary phone line, so more calls are being made from an in-building environment, according to Skip Speaks, Rosum CEO.

“To more accurately reflect actual 911 calling patterns, we deliberately held ourselves to a higher standard than currently used by industry,” Speaks said in a statement. “We know of no other company which does 50% of their E911 compliance testing indoors.”

Meanwhile, Metzler noted that emergency calling is just one application for Rosum's location technology, as service providers are realizing the commercial benefits of leveraging a caller's location information. In fact, the first deployments of Rosum's technology next year will be in devices for South Korean carriers who are making the change to drive commercial applications.

“We will have a very similar announcement forthcoming in the United States, as well,” Metzler said. “We're at that point where we're going from a robust safety-of-life focus, which certainly applies to E911, to more of a commercial, location-service focus. Obviously, our investors are very happy about that.”

A prerequisite for using Rosum's solution is that the device has a TV tuner and antenna. Thanks to economies of scale realized in the flourishing cellular and PC markets, silicon TV tuners cost only about $2 per tuner and require little real estate in a handheld device, Metzler said.