You Are Here: Broadcom Partners with Skyhook

By Naomi Graychase

October 01, 2008

Chipmaker will bring Wi-Fi positioning to its location-based services (LBS) infrastructure.

Broadcom announced Tuesday that it has partnered with Skyhook Wireless to incorporate a Wi-Fi Positioning System into its location based services (LBS) infrastructure.

Broadcom’s six-year-old hosted LBS infrastructure is one of the largest in the world. Its Worldwide Reference Network (WWRN), an “always-on” system that tracks GPS satellites globally, was originally employed as the GPS data backbone for the first nationwide E911 emergency location system in the U.S. According to Broadcom, it currently supports over 20 million active customers in 170 countries, including top tier cellular operators and mobile device manufacturers, and it has provided over one billion extended ephemeris, or Long Term Orbits (LTO) downloads to date.

What Skyhook brings to the equation is its unique hybrid positioning system that incorporates Wi-Fi and cellular towers to more accurately and consistently achieve locationing, even in tricky spots such as inside buildings or dense urban areas. Thanks to the deal with Skyhook, Broadcom’s upgraded LBS infrastructure can now connect directly to Wi-Fi access points and cellular base stations in addition to GPS satellites.

Skyhook had another big win earlier this year when Apple licensed its technology for use with Google maps in iPhone and iPod touch. SiRF was the first chip provider to license Skyhook's technology (in February 2007) followed by CSR (in June 2008). Broadcom is the first to integrate Skyhook's technology into a combined Wi-Fi and GPS chipset offering. 

Broadcom’s intention, of course—in keeping with its mission of “Connecting everything”—is to enable mobile device and personal navigation device (PND) manufacturers to deploy a single, integrated hybrid positioning solution that can meet the demands of an increasingly mobile worldwide user base (which apparently really likes to know where it is, where it’s been, and where it’s going—to within a few meters, if possible). In-Stat predicts that sales of mobile devices with integrated GPS may grow from 180 million units in 2007 to 720 million units in 2011.

“We’ve made a significant investment in positioning systems, such as GPS and AGPS, and in delivering integrated end-to-end platforms that improve the overall performance and user experience on mobile devices,” said Scott Pomerantz , Vice President & General Manager of Broadcom’s GPS line of business.  “By integrating Wi-Fi positioning with our GPS, Wi-Fi, and integrated combo chipsets, we are able to deliver a truly unique hybrid positioning system as part of a single platform.”

Headquartered in Irvine, CA, Broadcom is one of the world’s largest fabless semiconductor companies, with 2007 revenue of $3.78 billion, and holds over 2,800 U.S. and 1,200 foreign patents, more than 7,300 additional pending patent applications, and one of the broadest intellectual property portfolios addressing both wired and wireless transmission of voice, video, data and multimedia.

Skyhook Wireless is a Boston-based company founded by Ted Morgan and Mike Shean, who had what turned out to be a brilliant idea to map first the nation's and then the world's Wi-Fi networks.

Naomi Graychase is Wi-Fi Planet Managing Editor. She is located near  42° 16' N  72° 39' W.
Originally published on .

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