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AT&T ShopAlerts and BB for Everyone

No sooner had I written my article on AT&T’s ten million (10,000,000) strong push into M2M (Machine-to-Machine) Communications by the end of the first Quarter of 2011 than I got wind of news that AT&T is on the prowl again!

This time it’s ShopAlerts ! That’s right folks: advertising is coming smartphone near you! Specifically got those of you faithful, long sufferin’ AT&T customers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco! Bit too much excitement here……..

And unlike FaceBook Places, the Google Latitude and FourSquare competitor, you can actually opt out – after having opted in and realizing SMS (Short Messaging Service) spam is not to your liking.

This is a great deal however, as it means be which Telecoms Provider can subsidize the cost of a smartphone, if they so choose. This based on the heavy-hitters that AT&T has signed on to do sponsored adverts i.e. Hewlett Packard, Kmart, JetBlue, SC Johnson and Kibbles ‘n Bits.

This works in a manner akin to FaceBook adverts that pop up (again no choice on your part!) on your friend’s pages when you “check in” to a location and you post a status update.

Probably a bit of politics was involved, as this tech is no more advanced than DodgeBall, which had a similar concept of geo-fences.

Customer roams near to a restaurant geo-fence that had been catalogged into the GPS Database for ShopAlerts, and the user get sent a SMS Advert advising of deals and sales at the participating Company’s location.

Hewlett Packard, Kmart, JetBlue, SC Johnson and Kibbles ‘n Bits have thus far signed on, with more to come, as this potentially has a wider reach than the competition.

This is because the SMS Advertisements can be pushed to any feature phone that supports SMS and can implement third party apps e.g. LG Xenon and LG Neon. No GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) built into the phone required!

Unlike Foursquare, Loopt, Google Latitude, Gowalla and other Geo-location based services, ShopAlerts is based on very basic and crude two (2)-Tower Mobile Tower Triangulation that has been around since the late 90’s. How it works?

AT&T utilizes two (2) Mobile Node B’s or cell sites towers to send your mobile phone a small 100kb Data Packet in continuous bursts. Then, it clocks how long it takes to travel to and from the customers UE (User Equipment).

The antennas the signals originate (Alpha, Beta of Gamma) are factored in to triangulate your position in the usual Latitude and Longitude we have come to know and love from GPS.

More accurate methods exist, such as the Single Tower Triangulation method developed by Swedish upstart GloPos which require hyper-accurate measurements of each cell tower in the Telecom Providers Network.

GloPos utilizes the precision recorded GPS location of each Tower, Sector i.e. alpha beta or gamma, distance to the object again determined by sending a 100kb packets and angular orientation of the signal based on the power flux density of the Yagi antennas inside of the Agisson or Andrews Antenna.

Thus latitude and longitude are generated with hyper-accuracies akin to power-wasting GPS Modules. Something for AT&T to consider as more advertisers pile on to ShopAlerts

SMS spam…ah….that is to say Advertising, however, has even greater potential in Jamaica and the Developing World: it can make those prices of BB’s affordable to the masses. This is as sponsors of services in Jamaica as diverse as Mobile Banking, a Broadcaster wishing to expand into Mobile advertising vie Bluetooth advertising and even Gaming Outfits interested in bringing Lotto and other games to Mobile phones can sponsor Blackberry’s directly.

Even having them branded with your own advertising specific to the company is an option. BB’s make great promotional gifts and are far better than giving people hats and T-shirts.

Throw in the fact that the Refurbished Blackberry’s are cheaper, such a promotional push can be done, making the BB the equivalent of a “volks”-phone i.e. a People Phone affordable to anyone sporting a Nokia 1208 or a Huawei phone, a take on the iconic 60’s VolksWagen made popular by the Beatles.

Love, love, love…….great idea for the Summer of 2011 pre-Playbook Launch on Sunday April 10th 2011? Something our Local Telecom Providers in Jamaica could learn when it comes to marketing! Stay tuned..!!

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.

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