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Sprint Nextel became the first carrier to offer a location service that lets subscribers view the location of their child's GPS-equipped cellphone on a map appearing on their handset or on a PC.
Sprint Family Locator, developed by WaveMarket, lets parents pinpoint a child's location on an interactive map, along with the street address, surrounding landmarks and data on the accuracy of the information within a specified radius.
Subscribers download a Family Locator Java application over the air to their GPS-enabled handset to track any of the 30 GPS-equipped phones sold for use on the Sprint and Nextel networks. A total of 17 phones can download the software.
For $9.99/month, subscribers locate up to four registered phones. They can make an unlimited number of location requests and send 100 text messages to each child's phone.
When a parent requests the child's location, Sprint Family Locator notifies a child by text message. Once the child is located, the parent can immediately call or send a text message to the child's phone. Parents can also give permission to other people to locate a child.
An additional safety feature lets parents set alerts to notify them when a child arrives at a specified location, such as school or a relative's house, or alert them that the child hasn't arrived by a certain time.
Companies such as Wherify and Teen Arrive Alive also offer child-tracking services independently of carriers. Users of those services must use a PC to track a kid's locations or place a call to a call center. The location data does not appear on their cellphone.