GPS required for mobile phones in Japan from April 2007

Japan’s Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry (Soumusho) is working to change regulations so that GPS is required on Japan’s mobile phones from April 2007.

This move has been expected for some time, but apparently details will be announced later in 2005. Nikkei reports that the accuracy of the location determination should be on the order of 150 meters.

Japan’s police receive about 9 million emergency calls per year, and Nikkei reports that about 1/2 of these are from mobile phones. For emergency calls from fixed line phones the precise location is communicated directly to the police and emergency service operators, however for mobile phones this is not the case, and the operators need to rely on the information given by the (often distressed) caller.

The regulations will require for the mobile operators to communicate the location of emergency callers to the Police and Fire Service emergency center operators.

Already for sometime KDDI sells almost all mobile phones with chips with built-in GPS (from Qualcomm), while all operators in Japan have developed a dense array of location based services which are deeply embedded in many mobile internet services. Today about 20% of mobile phones in Japan have GPS built-in, and we expect this ratio to increase to close to 100% around 2008-2010 (for more information consult our report on location based mobile services in Japan).

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