Network World reported a feature on the state of the Global Positioning System chips now making their way into mobile phones. Of course, location-based and context-based services, such as DriveAssist, are all the rage in anticipation of the plethora of now-developing services and their tiny per use fees.

In particular, the article highlights how Broadcom, NASA and mobile operators are coming together to enable a faster position lock-in. You remember that the GPS chip determines its position by extrapolating the delay between at least three different Low Earth Orbiting satellites in the GPS constellation. The trouble is that this takes time or as often happens in major metropolitan areas, one or more of the satellites is blocked or signal is weak.

The NASA Global Differential GPS System, the StarFire Network, Xypoint, Andrew Wireless Solutions and Broadcom's WorldWide Reference Network are several such examples of innovative services that accelerate the chips' ability to detect its location. In the case of the Broadcom WWRN, the chip does a data dip to one of two servers which have realtime information on some 28 satellites in orbit. This process cuts the search time to ~ 20 seconds from 2 minutes.

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