Dial cellcos to track your husband

Worried mothers with school going children, NRI’s with old, ailing parents back home, fleet owners with erring drivers or even housewives with philandering husbands will soon have a helping hand from mobile operators, BSNL and a leading CDMA operator, which are launching a ‘Locator Service’ for the first time in India.

Wondering how does it work? Simple, a child (or anyone else who needs to be tracked) can be given a basic Rs 8,00 mobile phone (with only three keys) or for that matter any mobile phone, which will be tracked from the mother’s mobile phone any time. The technology works like this: every active mobile phone is connected to a nearby tower (base station). The tower sends the location of the mobile back in the central server.

The strength of the signal with the tower can determine the radius in which the mobile user is located. The mapping service determines the exact coordinates while the routing company can tell you the optimal route to reach that site. The best part is that none of the mobile phone needs to be high end (GPRS enabled). It works on all phones.

What’s best, with a feature called ‘Fencing’, harried fathers can be alerted everytime a teenage daughter nears a night club, with a message popping up on the Pop’s mobile screen. The service is expected to be available in India on both GSM and CDMA operators within six months.

Its become common abroad. Vodafone, BT Mobile, Fresh, Orange and O2 offer child ‘Locator Service’ in UK. In US, Sprint offers it for $12 per month while Verizon offers it under ‘VZ Chaperone’ for $10 per month for four family members. An extra member to locate, costs $ 2.5 extra per month. However, subscribers have to pay as much as $ 19 for avail the ‘Fencing’ service.

The US-based Telenity, is launching the service on BSNL networks only for fleet tracking for now which will be extended soon to other subscribers. VAS provider mBlazon is launching the full service with fencing, trailing in pilot mode next month with a yet undisclosed CDMA operator. “The service will include family/child locator, social networking and enterprise resource location,” says Shaheer Ahmed CEO of mBlazon.

Salespersons sitting at home during office hours may face a tough time. “We will launch the Resource Tracking service in the first stage followed by people finder and dating service in next two months on BSNL network,” says Vikram Manchanda, sales manager Asia-Pacific of Telenity said.

With the roll out of a full service worried NRIs with ailing parents back home will also be able to benefit. Wi-Fi heart beat or blood glucose monitoring devices can be connected to the parent’s mobile. An NRI can then track his/her parent’s health and in case of emergency direct medical help immediately to the exact location.

“It will help better fleet management for transport companies, BPOs, courier and sales companies et al. Four players – the operator, VAS application developer, MAP service, routing company and the locator company are involved in it. We are talking to GIS companies such as MapMyIndia.com for map services,” adds mBlazon’s Ahmed.

With the social networking application, people searching for a prospective spouse can track where he/she is on a holiday. One can also find out the friends in a particular area, say in a 5 Km radius, with the service.