A-GPS in a Sim Card from Sagem Orga & BlueSky

Getting a bit technical for a moment, I got a bit of news through from Sagem Orga, the chaps who make a lot of sim card and sim card related systems.

They’ve partnered with BlueSky Positioning to bring the world’s first Assisted-GPS Sim card to market.


Enter Francois Blanchard, Global Account Marketing Manager at Sagem Orga:

“The SIM is entering a new era where it can now be considered as a real service platform and a valuable device; the A-GPS enabled SIM card will reshape the way SIM cards are perceived by MNOs and end-users.”

I picked up this release as it points to a possible change in the marketplace: With this kind of offering, you won’t necessarily need to be sporting a 500 quid handset to get A-GPS related services.

The primary purpose of A-GPS SIM is to provide accurate positioning information of the phone to emergency services in case of an emergency call as required by E112 and E911 legislation in the EU and the U.S. respectively. In addition to this, it can support generic location-based services such as navigation, ‘find a place or person’ services, location-aware games, and many more.

I wonder how you get the A-GPS location off the sim card and into the handset? We shall see.

It’d be rather good if an operator, say 3UK (who already use USIMs) picked up this and began offering it to their consumers — they’d theoretically be able to offer all sorts of wickedly cool services.

We shall see…

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

16 replies on “A-GPS in a Sim Card from Sagem Orga & BlueSky”

“Sagem Orga and BlueSky Positioning’s new approach incorporates a highly accurate GPS receiver and a proprietary antenna into the SIM card, enabling mobile operators to deploy both legally-mandated and commercial applications quickly and cost-effectively for all mobile handsets, with no need for software or hardware changes. To make localization even more accurate and user friendly, the A-GPS SIM uses assisted GPS data.”

A GPS receiver and an antenna in a SIM card? I don't think so… and even if they have achieved this it's still a very stupid idea!

Many reasons, most obviously that an antenna on a SIM card isn't likely to be the most effective. The SIM card is usually installed on the back of the handset, wedged under the battery. Not exactly the clearest view of the sky it could get 😉

Another example of poor antenna placement is where the N95 manual instructs users to open the slide when using GPS as the antenna is underneath there.

I imagine it's just the 'A' bit of A-GPS and not the 'GPS' bit. So probably some cell id based LBS app installed on the SIM that auto installs with you insert the SIM like a lot the operator settings and things on SIM's. Not to dissimilar from what WuBud of maxroam are doing?

Yeah, when I first read the article I thought the same as you, but the PR fluff says “Sagem Orga and BlueSky Positioning’s new approach incorporates a highly accurate GPS receiver and a proprietary antenna into the SIM card” which sounds a lot like utter bollocks to me!

I call shenanigans, review unit or it didn't happen!

Even if it did have an antenna built into it, making GPS and A-GPS work in a handset takes a lot more than just bundling the technology into the phone. It requires significant tuning and careful antenna placement. As already mentioned, the typical location of a sim card is not the ideal location for an A-GPS antenna (or receiver).

Yeah, what Dan said.

I am a tad concerned that Mr Lane is reading my mind just too often for comfort.

In my dealings with BlueSky there has always been a sniff of desperate used-car-salesmen….Didn't it come out at FOM that people only spend about 5% of their time in usable GPS conditions? With such poor antenna environment as a USIM slot, make that maybe 1%, being generous.

Solution (and not a very god one) looking for problem. Just wait for the GSMA to suggest that the GPS integrates with a wallet function to automatically charge you train fare based on distance traveled….no, wait, don't. Bugger. There's probably a plan to do so already.


Ewan – here is a challenge for you – get them to give you a SIM and get it working on YOUR phone on camera in London.

At LBS 2007 in Madrid this one was called – show us us a demo or shut up. No demo.

A year later at a conference in Amsterdam, an Orange rep said they had only seen it working in the lab.

How about you get Risto Savolainen from BlusSky (apt name?) to show you it working on camera on your phone – not their phone in the lab.

I know you're up for a challenge. Perhaps Sagem-Orga have been hoodwinked?

At the LBS 2007 conference in Madrid, this one was called – put up a demo or shut up. No demo. They claimed at the time that EVERY handset would work – even if it did not have GPS already. At a conference in Amsterdam in June, a lady from Orange said she had only seen it working in the lab but not on a real phone. Ewan – here is a challenger for you! Get Risto Savolainen from BSP on camera showing you the SIM working in YOUR phone in London.

I’d like to see that!

“they’d theoretically be able to offer all sorts of wickedly cool services.”

such as….er…..Google Maps? Oh, wait, that works already using CellID / WiFi. OK, er, car / child trackers…ah.

Fundamentally, most people know where they are, so even GMaps with zero location awareness is very useful.

IMHO, the LBS that will take off need no more than neighbourhood awareness, as the scale you need to view the maps at to get a useful context (how far is it, do I need a taxi or is it walkable? How close are my friends? Show me the closest 5 pubs / ATM's / Gas stations) is normally measured in several km, not the hyper-accurate tens of metres that GPS enables.


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