By Lisa Johnston
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The cost of finding your way with GPS dropped quickly with the launch of a new wireless service available to Nextel subscribers.
American Wireless, the national master agent and distributor, has begun offering Nextel's GPS-equipped i730 phone preloaded with Telenavigation's Java-based TeleNav application at a suggested $299. The company is also distributing the application so dealers can load it onto two other GPS-equipped Nextel phones and five other Nextel phones that require a GPS adapter.
The TeleNav- and GPS-equipped phones access a service that provides automatic route guidance, voice-based turn-by-turn driving instructions and automatic rerouting after a missed turn. Service price starts at $5.99/month and varies based on usage.
In contrast, handheld navigation systems with route guidance, turn-by-turn instructions and automatic rerouting are available at prices starting at about $450 from Garmin, which also offers a $550 GPS-equipped Palm PDA. Transportable (car-to-car) models start at about $1,000, including one from Garmin, the company said. These types of devices, however, don't require a monthly subscription.
The location-based service works like this:
Users call a toll-free number with their Nextel phone to dictate a destination or key in an address on the phone's touchpad. Consumers can also input an address on the TeleNav Web page. The phone uploads its GPS coordinates to Telenavigation's server, then downloads a specific data package from the server. The server then disconnects the session to reduce wireless airtime usage.
The phone then graphically depicts the optimal route on the phone's display and, through the speakerphone feature, delivers voice prompts to advise of upcoming turns, which are also depicted on-screen with arrows and text. The phone's GPS receiver determines whether the subscriber is on course. If the driver misses a turn, the phone automatically reconnects to the server to get a new data package, then delivers new driving instructions.
Entire trips can be pre-planned through the TeleNav Web site with driving directions later accessed through the customer's mobile phone.
TeleNav mapping data covers the entire United States except for Alaska. Telenavigation's service currently is available only with Nextel phones based on Motorola's Falcon platform.
"TeleNav is GPS for everybody and anybody, and not just luxury car owners," said Telenavigation president H.P. Jin. "The selection of American Wireless as a national distributor will help ensure the accessibility of TeleNav to millions of consumers nationwide."
As a master agent, American Wireless, serves as the intermediary between wireless carriers and small agents with retail locations. Its offerings include postpaid and prepaid cellular, satellite TV and radio, fulfillment, distribution, warranty programs and hardware and accessories.
Telenavigation's services include GPS navigation and tracking.
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